The progress in spending and shutdown talks that House Republicans were touting Wednesday night was revealed to be a mirage by midday Thursday, dealing Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) a blow and keeping the conference in a state of turmoil.
An attempted re-do on a Pentagon appropriations bill failed again on Thursday. And revamped framework for a GOP-only funding stopgap still faces enough conservative opposition to block it.
The result is Congress being no closer to averting a government shutdown with just nine days before a funding deadline and McCarthy starting to openly air his frustration with the hardline conservatives — some of whom have expressed support for trying to oust him.
“This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down,” McCarthy told reporters after the failed vote.
“That doesn’t work,” McCarthy said. “Look, I know it’s an obstacle. I find it as a challenge, and we’re gonna solve it.
A procedural vote on the Pentagon appropriations bill had failed on Tuesday due to conservative opposition.
But after McCarthy presented a new framework for a GOP-only plan to avert a government shutdown after Sept. 30, positive reactions had prompted House Republican leadership to make a second try on the Pentagon bill.
Two of those that voted against it Tuesday, Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), said in the Wednesday conference meeting that they would change their votes to allow the legislation to move forward.
But when the vote came up on Thursday, two other Republicans — Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Eli Crane (R-Ariz.) — moved to vote “nay” on the rule vote, sinking it for a second time. They were joined by Reps. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who also opposed the procedural vote on Tuesday.
House Rules Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) changed his vote to “no” at the last minute, a procedural tactic that will allow him to bring up the measure at a later date.
Greene wrote on social media that she voted against the bill over funds in the bill that she said would go to fund Ukraine. She cast her “no” vote the same day Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with lawmakers in the Capitol.
And Crane said that he switched to vote against the bill because his voters “expect me to do everything I possibly can to change the way this town works.”
“There’s nothing that’s going to get me to go back on what I just voted,” Crane said.
McCarthy, for his part, blamed the failed vote on absences in the chamber: three Republicans and two Democrats were not present in the chamber to weigh in on the rule.
“For medical purposes we don’t have everybody here; if we had everybody here we would win,” McCarthy told reporters.
But House GOP leadership is also facing a blow after perceived progress on a new GOP-only continuing resolution ran into a conservative wall.
GOP leadership scrapped a plan earlier this week to hold a procedural vote on a stopgap funding bill unveiled over the weekend due to conservative opposition.
McCarthy on Wednesday night pitched Republicans on a modified plan that seemed to win over some of the hard-liners and give leadership a fresh sense of optimism.
Norman and Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), who had opposed the initial GOP-only plan, left the meeting saying that they could get behind the new vision.
It would fund the government until Oct. 31 at a $1.471 trillion level along with a slate of border security measures, and address the hardliners’ longtime push for lower spending levels with a commitment to pass fiscal year 2024 funding bills at a $1.526 trillion topline level.
But at least nine conservatives have said they will not vote for the continuing resolution – enough to sink the effort, and leaving GOP leadership without a clear path forward.
“It’s the new CR, we put a bow on it and given it a new name,” Crane told reporters on Thursday. “I mean, it’s the same old nonsense in this town — no, no, no. Not doing it.”
“I’m a never CR,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said on Wednesday.
Asked if he is confident that the House GOP conference will coalesce around the CR proposal, House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-Pa.) told reporters “there’s a lot of work to be done.”
Increasing pressure on House Republicans to unite around a plan, a coalition of bipartisan members endorsed an escape-hatch proposal on Wednesday that would temporarily fend off a funding lapse through the end year and approve Ukraine aid and disaster relief, among other provisions.
The plan, backed by over 60 members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, additionally calls for the creation of a fiscal commission to explore ways to reduce the debt and border policy changes, as Republicans press for legislation in both areas to be tacked onto any CR deal.
It’s unclear how far the effort will go, as Republicans try to see if they can still work a spending deal amongst themselves first.
“I think a lot of it just depends on the Republicans, being able to talk to McCarthy,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told The Hill when asked about the prospect of members pursuing procedural moves like a discharge petition to force a vote.
To some moderate Republicans, a bipartisan plan is looking more appealing as the House GOP fails to unify around one plan – a prospect that is being met with pushback from hardline conservatives who say Republicans involved are undercutting internal efforts to get the conference on the same page.
“That’s switching teams in the middle of the game,” Norman said, calling the idea of some Republicans potentially using a procedural move to get around the conservative roadblock “outrageous.”
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Source: The Hill
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