House Speaker Kevin McCarthy faces another delay in efforts to pass a short-term continuing resolution as Republicans work to hammer out their differences.
A procedural vote on a continuing resolution aimed at averting a government shutdown was removed from the House schedule this afternoon, adding another delay in a hotly contested battle over government spending in the coming fiscal year.
The House was scheduled to vote on the rule for consideration of H.R. 5525, Continuing Appropriations and Border Security Enhancement Act, 2024, at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 19. The “rule,” proposed by the House Rules Committee, sets the terms for debating the bill on the House floor.
House GOP leaders removed that vote from the afternoon schedule, indefinitely delaying consideration of the bill amid reports that as many as 17 House Republicans were opposed to the bill itself.
The delay may be due to attempts by various factions in the House Republican caucus to resolve differences over the bill.
“They’re talking about what they can do to change it in there, to make it stronger,” Rep. Keith Self (R-Texas) told reporters earlier in the day.
Disagreements over spending are inevitable in a country this size, and that cooperation is necessary, according to Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and a co-sponsor of the bill.
“Understanding that we represent millions of people across the country, there are going to be differences of opinions. You’re not going to get every single thing that you want,” Mr. Perry told reporters. He added that his approach to those unhappy with the provisions of the bill would be to engage them in conversation.
“My message is, ‘What is it that you’re interested in doing that you’re not seeing here? And can we accommodate that?'” he said.
Some Republican members have voiced dissatisfaction with the continuing resolution both because they believe it would continue Democrats’ spending priorities for another month and because they object to the bundling of spending decisions into a single, take-it-or-leave-it proposal.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said on Sept. 19 that defeating the continuing resolution was his “sole focus” for the week.
“Everyone tries to cast me as some sort of partisan radical because I think the individual agencies of government ought to have their bills considered under open amendment,” Mr. Gaetz told reporters, meaning that spending bills should not be lumped together and that members should have the opportunity to debate them and offer amendments before voting.
“That this was promised, and it has not been delivered. And I’m not going to have some continuation of this Biden government all wrapped up where we voted all up or down at once,” Mr. Gaetz said, referring to an extension of the 2023 spending program that was created by congressional Democrats in a $1.7-trillion omnibus spending bill in December.
The bill H.R. 5525 was put forward by Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), a member of the HFC, the most conservative of the five major House caucuses, and is co-sponsored by Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), chair of the more pragmatically minded Main Street Caucus.
The coalition between the two caucuses appears to have formed in an effort to avoid a government shutdown in the event that the House and Senate are unable to pass 12 appropriations bills and reconcile their separate versions into a single law by Sept. 30. In that case, the executive branch will have no further spending authority and nonessential functions would cease.
The bill would extend government funding for 31 days while cutting most non-defense discretionary spending by just over 8 percent. Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs spending would continue at current levels.
Proponents of the continuing resolution have presented it as a stopgap measure that will temporarily enact important Republican priorities while allowing the House and Senate to finish their work.
“What we’re trying to do is get us to a point where we can work on those 12 appropriations bills and have those discussions [on spending levels],” said Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn.) during a Rules Committee hearing on Sept. 18.
And, according to Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.), vice chair of the Main Street Caucus, spending cuts proposed by the bill mirror the top line of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA).
The FRA was passed into law in June based on a deal between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to increase the nation’s debt ceiling in exchange for certain spending cuts. That legislation was intended to be a blueprint for 2024 appropriations, and the Senate has adhered to those spending levels.
The House Appropriations Committee has been setting levels lower, in keeping with the Limit, Save, Grow Act, which the House passed in April.
A week earlier, hardline House Republicans appear to have blocked consideration of the $886-bill defense appropriations bill. Based on their threat to block any spending bill if strict caps were not adhered to on non-defense discretionary spending, Mr. McCarthy canceled a procedural vote on the proposed defense bill.
“Nobody’s objecting to what’s in the bill,” Committee Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said in a statement to reporters. “Everybody’s trying to leverage the bill for something now.”
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), in remarks to reporters on Sept. 19, appeared to question the aims of those in opposition to the continuing resolution.
“If you’re not going to pass individual bills, you’re not going to pass a short-term CR that allows us to pass the individual bills to help the border get secure, if you don’t want to pass Homeland [Security appropriations], then want to do you want to do?” the speaker asked rhetorically.
“If you run for office, you should be willing to govern. And the thing I want to show the American public is that we can govern in a conservative manner, and you can have a stronger country.”