Deal or No Deal: Continuing Resolution Edition
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s short-term solution to avoid a shutdown is on life support.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is still working to find a solution to fund the government that the Republican-controlled House can agree on before funding runs out on September 30.
The Republican caucus in the House is divided between hardline conservatives, mostly associated with the House Freedom Caucus, and the rank and file. After announcing the beginning of a formal impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden early last week—a move that has been perceived as a concession to the conservative cohort—the California Republican and GOP leadership are whipping for a plan brokered over the last few days to fund the government through October 31.
The proposal was negotiated between some members of House Freedom Caucus leadership and members of the moderate Main Street Caucus with McCarthy and GOP leadership oversight. The plan includes cuts to domestic spending bills that amount to around 8 percent. Defense spending, veterans benefits, and disaster aid funding remain exempt from these cuts, however.
To meet one of the House Freedom Caucus’ central demands, the short-term funding proposal includes most of what is found in H.R. 2, also known as the Secure the Border Act. What’s missing from H.R. 2 in the potential funding deal, however, is making e-verify mandatory, which reveals just how sorry the state of affairs are in the Republican Party. The GOP screams about Biden’s border disaster, but get squeamish when conservatives suggest illegal immigrants shouldn’t be receiving a paycheck if they don’t have papers.
In exchange for the aforementioned cuts and increased border security, the proposed deal opens up the possibility of Republicans passing a defense spending bill for the upcoming fiscal year. So far, conservative members have prevented a defense appropriations bill from going forward. And they might continue to do so, depending on how hawkish (particularly with respect to the war in Ukraine) the neoconservative and liberal Republicans make the upcoming defense spending bill. What is not included in the short-term funding bill: Biden’s requested $40 billion more in supplemental funding for the war in Ukraine and natural disasters—something Senate leadership in both parties have demanded be in a short-term funding solution.
During a private call Sunday night, the GOP’s House leadership told caucus members it hopes to bring the defense spending bill to a vote on Wednesday, then vote on the bill to fund the government through October 31 on Thursday.
Soon after more details of the proposed deal emerged, however, House conservatives were making their displeasure known. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida said he “will not support this 167 page surrender to Joe Biden;” Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana said the deal was a “continuation of Nancy Pelosi’s budget and Joe Biden’s policies;” North Carolina’s Rep. Dan Bishop tweeted, “No CR. Pass the damn approps bills. Roll back the crazy bureaucracy to pre-COVID levels. Now.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia made it simple: “I’m a NO.” And Arizona’s Rep. Eli Crane’s position was simpler still: “NO.” Bishop quote-tweeted Crane saying it was a “one-word winning argument.”
Beyond the aforementioned, the full list of Republican members who are voting no or leaning no includes Reps. Andy Biggs, Ken Buck, Tim Burchett, Tony Gonzales, Anna Paulina Luna, Ralph Norman, Andy Ogles, and Victoria Spartz.
It’s tough sledding for McCarthy. The Speaker brought in Pennsylvania’s Rep. Scott Perry, the Freedom Caucus Chair, to negotiate the deal, only for McCarthy and Perry to see members affiliated with the Freedom Caucus reject the deal instantaneously. On Monday, McCarthy rhetorically asked CNN, “Have they read it?”
“One thing I always know, sometimes they haven’t read all the way through it,” McCarthy continued. “Let’s let them understand what it is and see where they are.”
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The number of objectors to the short-term funding deal makes the math incredibly difficult for McCarthy. Because Republicans have such a slim majority, McCarthy can only afford four defections in the Republican caucus if he hopes to pass the deal through the House, assuming all Democrats vote no (an incredibly safe bet).
Things get even more difficult when potential GOP absences are taken into account. Rep. Chris Stewart effectively resigned his seat Friday due to his wife’s health concerns, Rep. Frank Lucas is still recovering from surgery, and Rep. Dan Crenshaw is awaiting his newborn. As for the GOP conservatives, Luna is on maternity leave.
Despite the math, McCarthy isn’t ready to abandon the short-term funding deal just yet: “It’s a good thing I love a challenge, because every day will be a challenge. We’re not on September 30th yet,” McCarthy reportedly said. But it’s coming more quickly than McCarthy might have hoped.