What we know about Biden and House Speaker Mike Johnson's working relationship

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WASHINGTON — The White House sees the election of House Speaker Mike Johnson as a “new moment” in which to, at least at the outset, work across the aisle, and it is beginning to assess whether it’s possible to cut a spending deal with him that avoids a government shutdown in three weeks, according to White House officials.

“We’re not going to pre-judge the new speakership on day two,” an official said.

Officials said President Joe Biden, who does not know Johnson well, is first going to try to work with the new speaker to secure additional aid for Ukraine and Israel, as well as other domestic priorities. They said they need to wait and see what kind of speaker Johnson, R-La., intends to be before they commit to any larger legislative strategy.

At the same time, officials concede there’s not much time to get to know him before the White House and Congress must agree on federal spending or face a government shutdown.

It’s too early to know whether another short-term measure would be the solution to avoiding a shutdown, White House officials say. While it isn’t the White House’s preferred path, officials aren’t ruling it out.

They said Biden will continue to press for any scenario that spares Americans the economic impact of a shutdown. Officials also said Biden will continue to push back against any Republican proposal that would cut spending below the levels Congress and the White House agreed to earlier this year to avoid a first-ever default.

While officials say it’s too soon to say what kind of working relationship Biden and Johnson will have, Biden moved quickly to connect with him.

“This is a time for all of us to act responsibly, and to put the good of the American people and the everyday priorities of American families above any partisanship,” Biden said in a statement after Johnson was elected Wednesday.

He then followed up with a phone call to congratulate Johnson and, according to the White House, pledge to work together to find common ground.

By Thursday, Johnson was headed to the White House at Biden’s invitation to receive a classified briefing in the Situation Room about national security issues the Biden administration is asking Congress to fund in the coming weeks, including the wars in Ukraine and Israel.

Biden went to the Situation Room to meet with Johnson and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., before the briefing began. The briefing was led by national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young and White House Legislative Affairs Director Shuwanza Goff.

How Johnson will govern remains a big unknown in both parties. Top Democrats say they’ve never dealt with him. Many senators in both parties say they’ve never even met him.

There is some hope among Democrats that in this coming round of spending negotiations, Johnson is in somewhat of a honeymoon period in which Republicans are willing to give him flexibility to operate — flexibility many didn’t give Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

“I’ve made a commitment to my colleagues here that this speaker’s office is going to be known for members’ being more involved and having more influence in our processes,” Johnson said after he was elected. “My office is going to be known for trust and transparency and accountability.”

Johnson has pitched a short-term bill to keep funds flowing until Jan. 15 or April 15, depending on what colleagues prefer, while they continue to work on individual appropriations bills. And some of the far-right Republicans who evicted McCarthy for passing a short-term bill say they will give Johnson some latitude.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., said she’s still reviewing Johnson’s government funding plan but emphasized that she trusts him.

“I have great faith in our new speaker to do the right thing,” she said. “And I know that he’s very much so focused on being a fiscal conservative, which we need more of in Washington."

Rep. Juan Ciscomani, R-Ariz., said he believes Johnson has the desire and the ability to avert a shutdown.

“I do,” he said. “That’s what he’s saying. And I take him at his word.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com