Speaker McCarthy says there’s still time to pass spending bill as both parties object to stopgap
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has turned to cautious optimism about approving a short-term spending bill in the House, telling reporters Monday “We’ve got a long way to go” before the end-of-month deadline.
“This isn’t the 30th,” Mr. McCarthy said.
With a government shutdown looming, House Republicans have considered options including a new stopgap funding proposal that would keep the government working after the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30.
The legislation was presented Sunday night to GOP lawmakers in a conference call in hopes of finding a way to not have the government shut down on Oct. 1. The proposal was the brainchild of the party’s conservative House Freedom Caucus, and its more moderate Main Street Caucus.
The legislation, known in Congress as a continuing resolution, would keep the government open until Oct. 31, and was introduced as a compromise between the two caucuses. The deal includes an 8% funding cut to domestic spending with the exception of the Department of Defense, veterans’ spending and disaster relief.
The annual defense spending bill has already gone through its own turmoil. Last week, Mr. McCarthy had to throw it out after Freedom Caucus members threatened to withhold their votes until they got the spending cuts they wanted — an annual budget that is roughly $115 billion less than the $1.6 trillion agreed upon by Mr. McCarthy and President Biden.
The stopgap bill also includes a large part of the House Republicans’ Secure the Border Act, which would provide money to finish the border wall built during the Trump administration and allow the hiring of more Border Patrol agents. It does not include the E-Verify employment verification system, an idea that has caused friction in both parties.
More money to Ukraine is not included in the bill — an effort to appease many House Republicans who are against the additional $24 billion in aid sought by Mr. Biden. Democrats and many Senate Republicans support the president’s request.
The bill is highly unlikely to pass the Senate, but some conservative House members have already made their disdain of this bill known, showing that it might not even make it to the other chamber.
Montana Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale wrote on X, formerly Twitter, Sunday that he “will not be supporting a CR.”
“A CR is a continuation of Nancy Pelosi’s budget and Joe Biden’s policies,” Mr. Rosendale wrote.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia Republican, posted on X on Sunday, “No policy riders in the CR. So it’s all the policies from last year’s Democrat appropriations, with an 8% cut. Plus the border bill, but no E-Verify. I’m a NO. No money for Ukraine, COVID, or weaponized Gov.”
Democrats also have aired their opposition to the GOP’s proposals for short-term legislation.
“Less than two weeks away from a government shutdown, House Republicans are still more focused on introducing extreme funding bills that would cut funding to the National Institutes of Health, including funding for cancer research, defund the police, and decrease resources to important allies like Ukraine and Israel than working on bipartisan solution that could be enacted,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut Democrat and the senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, in a statement.
If Congress passes the legislation, or a CR, it would extend the current level of federal spending until lawmakers approve longer-term overall appropriations for fiscal 2024.
With less than two weeks until the government’s fiscal year ends, Mr. McCarthy has sent warning signals to his party that a shutdown could hurt Republicans politically.
“I’ve been through shutdowns and I’ve never seen somebody win a shutdown because when you shut down, you give all of your power to the administration,” he said in a Fox News interview Sunday. “How are you going to win your arguments to secure the border if the border agents don’t get paid? How are you going to win the arguments to get wokeism out of the Department of Defense? If even our own troops aren’t being paid. You have no strength there.”
House Democrats could help Republican leaders pass a stopgap bill, but Mr. McCarthy risks getting ousted by his own party if he allows them to do so. He told reporters Monday that “a lot of good ideas” are still coming from Republicans.