House GOP strikes internal deal as shutdown approaches

Two critical factions of the House Republican Conference reached agreement on a bill to avoid a government shutdown for another month, cutting discretionary spending for the duration, along with the bulk of a House GOP bill to change policies at the border.

The hope is to bring the continuing resolution (CR) deal, crafted by leaders in the Main Street Caucus and House Freedom Caucus, to the House floor this week. But even if it passes the House, it faces slim odds of passing in the Democratic-controlled Senate and being signed into law by the White House — and signs emerged on Sunday night that the plan faces an uphill battle getting through the slim House GOP majority.

The deal would avoid a looming Oct. 1 shutdown by funding the government through Oct. 31, keeping Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs at current levels while cutting all discretionary spending by 8 percent. Along with that, it would include the House GOP’s H.R. 2 border crackdown bill — minus its provisions about requiring E-Verify.

It does not include disaster relief funds or funding for Ukraine from the White House’s supplemental funding request in August, which it had proposed attaching to a continuing resolution.

In addition, the agreement is also to pass an appropriations bill to fund the Department of Defense (DOD) for fiscal 2024 in tandem with the CR bill, according to a GOP source. House GOP leadership was forced to punt plans to put the DOD bill on the House floor last week due to hard-line conservatives planning to sink the procedural vote to allow for its consideration, in protest of wanting steeper cuts across all other appropriations bills.

The CR bill is led by Reps. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.); Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), chair of the Main Street Caucus, a pragmatic conservative group; Scott Perry (R-Pa.), chair of the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus; Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.), vice chair of the Main Street Caucus; Chip Roy (R-Texas); and Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.).

“HFC Members have worked over the weekend with the Main Street Caucus on a path forward to fund the government and secure America’s border. We now have a  framework for our colleagues across the House Republican Conference,” Perry said in a statement.

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to take up the legislation on Monday. The current plan is for the House to vote on the Pentagon appropriations bill Wednesday and the continuing resolution on Thursday, a source on the call confirmed to The Hill.

But soon after a House GOP conference call ended on Sunday evening, it became clear that the plan – which is expected to be universally opposed by Democrats – has some major issues in getting enough support in the razor-thin House GOP majority. 

Enough GOP lawmakers to potentially sink the plan expressed opposition to the bill on Sunday evening.

Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) wrote on X that he was opposed to the bill, as did Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.).

“We were assured in January that we weren’t going to use the Democrats’ gimmicks to fund government and that we would deliver the 12 appropriations bills, thereby funding government responsibly and transparently, which is why I will be voting against the CR this week,” Rosendale wrote on X.

So did Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), saying: “I will NOT surrender.”

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) told The Hill that he will not vote for the legislation, adding that he does not think that it has the votes to pass. And Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) laid out a series of questions following the Sunday night email, bringing up the longtime request from hardline conservatives to further cut topline spending across all 12 appropriations bills.

“My questions are these, 1) what is the top line # for all 12 Appropriation bills net of any rescissions ? Will leadership “go to the mat and not cede power regardless of the days of the shutdown? Why are we not working on passing all 12 appropriations NOW!!” Norman told The Hill in a text message.

Congressional leaders of both parties and chambers are aiming to pass a continuing resolution to buy more time to complete the appropriations process through regular order, which includes passing all 12 appropriations bills and getting them signed into law. Both chambers, however, are far behind: The House has only cleared one measure, and the Senate has passed none.

But the clock is ticking: Included in the debt limit deal signed into law in June was a provision that said if all 12 appropriations bills are not passed by Jan. 1, 2025, a 1 percent cut would be made across the board.

Upping the pressure, however, is the fact that the two chambers marked up their bills at different levels, setting the scene of a House vs. Senate clash that could once again bring Congress to the brink of a shutdown.

The Senate is marking up its bills in line with the caps set in the debt limit deal, plus roughly $14 billion in additional emergency funding, while the House is moving ahead at levels far lower than the debt limit agreement.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) indicated on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures” earlier Sunday that he would bring the Defense funding bill to the floor, and he projected optimism about getting an agreement this week.

“I gave them an opportunity this weekend to try to work through this, and we’ll bring it to the floor, win or lose, and show the American public who’s for the Department of Defense, who’s for our military, who’s for giving them a pay raise and who’s for making sure we can take the wokeism out,” McCarthy said.

This story was updatd at 9:33 p.m.


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