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Lawmakers Have Just Days to Avert Federal Shutdown

House Speaker Mike Johnson proposed a two-step stopgap government funding extension. Lawmakers could vote on it as early as Tuesday.

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Lawmakers return to Capitol Hill on Monday with just days left to pass a stopgap funding measure that will keep the government from shutting down on Friday.

The House proposal, unveiled by Speaker Mike Johnson on Saturday, comes in two steps. The first has some funding expiring on Jan. 19, while the second runs to Feb. 2, with the goal of avoiding a last-minute massive omnibus spending bill rather than separate appropriations bills.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) told NBC’s Meet the Press that the priority is to keep the government open past the Nov. 17 deadline, and added that the Speaker’s proposal looks “gimmicky.”

Johnson’s stopgap proposal doesn’t include budget cuts or aid for Israel or other allies. House members could vote on it as soon as Tuesday.

On the Senate side, the chamber is proceeding with a clean continuing resolution. “I don’t like this laddered CR approach,” Murphy said of the House proposal. “It looks gimmicky to me. But I’m open to what the House is talking about.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the proposal “unserious” and “a recipe for more Republican chaos and more shutdowns.”

Murphy said Congress must pass foreign aid before the end of the year, as Ukraine runs out of ammunition and Israel needs support. “There are moments when you can’t fail,” he told NBC.

On CBSFace the Nation, Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas) said lawmakers have to approve aid to Israel, calling the situation urgent and dire. “We can’t sit back and do nothing.” McCaul, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was in Tel Aviv Sunday after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

McFaul said funding for Ukraine, Taiwan, and security at the southern U.S. border are also priorities. “Now whether we handle it all together, or separately…all that has yet to be figured out.” 

Many of the Sunday talk shows focused on the continuing conflict in the Middle East amid calls for Israel to pause its bombardment of Gaza to allow for the evacuation of more civilians.

Negotiations over the return of hostages are also ongoing. National security adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed to ABC’s This Week that there are discussions involving the Israelis and the Qataris to free the 239 hostages—according to Israel—being held by Hamas.

“We, the United States, are actively engaged in this as well, because we want to make sure that we bring home those Americans who have been taken hostage, as well as all of the other hostages,” Sullivan said.

There are nine missing American citizens, as well as a missing legal permanent resident, Sullivan said.

Write to Janet H. Cho at janet.cho@dowjones.com