House GOP’s short-term funding deal already pilloried by hard-right Republicans
By Monday, at least a dozen Republicans had publicly expressed opposition to the continuing resolution negotiated by members of two GOP factions over the weekend — from posting on social media a simple “NO” to “I’m a HARD NO!” to slamming the short-term funding bill as “a continuation of Nancy Pelosi’s budget and Joe Biden’s policies.”
The proposed legislation would keep the government running until Oct. 31 and trigger a 1 percent cut to current fiscal levels, according to the plan released just before lawmakers were briefed Sunday evening. The 1 percent cut is an average for the federal budget. The departments of defense and veterans affairs would not receive any cuts, while other government agencies would have their budgets slashed by 8 percent until the end of October.
Among those lawmakers who said they would not support the continuing resolution was Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a hard-right Republican who has become a strong ally of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Greene criticized the bill for not including enough conservative policies, including a divisive program to verify workers’ immigration status.
“No policy riders in the CR. So it’s all the policies from last year’s Democrat appropriations, with an 8% cut,” Greene posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, late Sunday night. “Plus the border bill, but no E-Verify. I’m a NO.”
The hard right’s growing public opposition to the continuing resolution proposed by GOP lawmakers undercut what had been seen as a small victory after a chaotic week for the House Republican Conference. McCarthy has been hoping to show a united conservative front ahead of inevitable negotiations with the Senate.
On Monday, McCarthy hinted that the House would remain in session through the coming weekend, a signal that Republican leaders will need a lot of time to build support for a government funding bill. Congress has a Sept. 30 deadline to reach an agreement on funding next year’s budget or much of the government will shut down.
“This isn’t the 30th [of September]. We’ve got a long ways to go. We’ve got a lot of different ideas,” McCarthy told reporters when asked whether he would be open to working with Democrats to pass a stopgap funding measure. “Inside our conference, we can work on this and we can get this solved.”
He also downplayed the opposition within his party to the continuing resolution, suggesting that perhaps some of the holdouts had not yet read the bill. The speaker repeatedly emphasized that the continuing resolution package had been developed by ideologically diverse members of the House GOP.
“We put together a number of members. I led it bottom-up,” McCarthy said, rattling off the names of those who had worked on the package: Reps. Dusty Johnson (S.D.), Stephanie I. Bice (Okla.) and Kelly Armstrong (N.D.) from the pragmatic Main Street Caucus; and Reps. Scott Perry (Pa.), Chip Roy (Tex.) and Byron Donalds (Fla.) from the Freedom Caucus.
Their goal now, McCarthy said, was “explaining to all the members” why a 30-day continuing resolution was critical for the GOP’s appropriations bills.
“We’ve got the most conservative bills,” McCarthy said. “We want to make sure we’re able to cut spending and secure the border. So we’re going to talk to our conference to be able to see if we can move forward.”
McCarthy cannot afford to lose much support from his party to get the necessary 218 Republican votes for the bill to pass. Because of medical- and family-related absences, McCarthy’s four-vote margin in the House could be even smaller in the coming days. Among those likely to miss a vote this week is Rep. Frank D. Lucas (R-Okla.), who is recovering from surgery.
Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), who had a baby last month, has indicated that she will fly back to Washington if needed — to vote against the continuing resolution.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who would support a continuing resolution and is undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma, said last week that he would go so far as to receive chemotherapy in the House to make sure he was present for a vote. Given the conservative provisions included in the proposal, Democrats are not expected to help pass the bill.
“It’s hard to pass everything in this place,” McCarthy said. “We started out in a five-seat majority. I had one member who’s now resigned. We got a couple members who are out as well. Anything we do is pretty tough in life.”
Missing from the proposal are requests from President Biden for more than $20 billion in aid for Ukraine and $16 billion in disaster relief. Both Democratic and Republican Senate leaders have said they would tack money for those matters on to any short-term funding bill. Several of the conservative demands are also likely to be rejected by the Senate, pitting the two chambers against each other with less than a dozen days to spare to prevent a partial government shutdown.
While McCarthy has often tried to appease his hard-right flank, he must also earn support from vulnerable incumbents representing swing districts in his conference to ensure that funding bills pass. Deep spending cuts to current fiscal levels would fuel Democratic attack ads highlighting how these Republicans voted in support of cuts to education, food security inspection and more.
Others in the conference remain unconvinced based on policy differences, signaling just how difficult it will be for House Republican leaders and their allies to win over enough support just to send a bill to the Senate, where it is expected to be rebuffed.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday panned the continuing resolution package as “not a serious proposal.”
“Last night’s proposal in the House can be boiled down to two words: slapdash, reckless,” Schumer said. “Slapdash because it’s not a serious proposal for avoiding a shutdown, and reckless because if passed it would cause immense harms to so many American people.”
Approving a short-term funding bill is the first hurdle that will test McCarthy’s leadership. If the House and Senate are able to send a compromise bill to the president’s desk — an outcome that currently does not have a pathway given the House’s conservative demands — Congress will then have to strike a deal on how to fund the government for the full fiscal year.
Each step comes with demands from far-right lawmakers on political or policy fronts, which continues to make it daunting for leadership to figure out what could pass through their narrow Republican ranks.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus, including those who now support the short-term funding bill, have publicly suggested that they would support a motion to vacate McCarthy as speaker if he relies on House Democrats to pass any bills they want to see approved only by the GOP majority.
Leigh Ann Caldwell contributed to this report.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene represents California. She represents Georgia. The article has been corrected.