Shutdown looms despite House GOP claims of progress toward spending plan
Confidence in a new short-term funding proposal was short-lived on Thursday.
House Republicans Wednesday evening voiced renewed confidence they could soon pass a short-term spending measure that would carry federal agencies past the current Sept. 30 deadline, though by Thursday morning it once again remained unclear whether they will actually have the votes to do so.
Even if the House manages to move the bill forward, the measure—which would include drastic spending cuts, conservative immigration policy and withhold emergency funding requested by the White House—would be dead on arrival in the Democratically controlled Senate. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., offered the revised proposal in a meeting with his caucus Wednesday night, which won a mostly warm reception but did not deliver the consensus he may need to pass it.
The bill would institute dramatic spending cuts for the one-month duration of the continuing resolution and set a slightly higher cap for agencies for the remainder of fiscal 2024. If approved, the Senate would likely amend the bill to instead continue spending at current levels and strip out the border language. The upper chamber has wide bipartisan agreement to stick to the spending caps instituted by the deal to raise the debt ceiling that President Biden struck with McCarthy earlier this year, while Republicans are looking to slash funding below that level.
Some Republican lawmakers acknowledged the Senate will not accept whatever version of a CR the House passes, if it is able to pass one. They largely declined to comment on what the House’s next move would be after the Senate sends back—or initiates—a “clean” version of a CR that continues current funding levels and likely adds supplemental funding for Ukraine aid and disaster relief. Multiple members also acknowledged that while there was a generally favorable reaction to the new plan, they were unsure if they had enough votes to pass it.
Several conservative members, such as Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., made clear they would never vote for any short-term stopgap spending measure, saying they want only full-year appropriations bills to advance.
“I am not voting for a CR,” Gaetz said.
Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., a top McCarthy ally, laughed off a question of whether his caucus was unified.
“We're Republicans,” McHenry said. “Come on.”
An alternative proposal emerged late Wednesday when the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus released their plan for calling for a CR without spending cuts through Jan. 11, plus the emergency money for Ukraine and disaster relief requested by the White House. Whether McCarthy would put such a measure on the floor for a vote remains unclear. Several conservative lawmakers have threatened to put forward a motion to strip McCarthy of his speakership if he does not comply with their demands to cut spending and disrupt Biden’s agenda.
Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., said the Problem Solvers members only planned to push for consideration of their proposal “if everything else fails.”
“Everything else hasn't failed yet,” Lamborn said.
McCarthy appeared to make little progress in winning over the hard-line members of his own caucus on Thursday. For the second time this week, a half-dozen Republicans joined Democrats in defeating a procedural vote to move forward on a full-year appropriations bill for the Defense Department. The House has so far only passed one of the 12 spending bills required annually. The Senate has broad bipartisan support for its bills, though some Republicans have delayed a vote on a package of the first three of those measures.
Absent congressional action, agencies will begin to shutter Oct. 1.