Opposition Grows to House GOP Government Funding Bill

Opposition Grows to House GOP Government Funding Bill

Without enough Republican support, Speaker Kevin McCarthy will have to rely on Democrats to pass a stopgap funding bill

Published |Updated

Lindsey McPherson

opposition grows to house gop government funding bill

Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., are among the Republicans opposing their party’s government funding plan. Win McNamee/Getty Images

At least a dozen House Republicans have come out in opposition to a deal their colleagues brokered to fund the government for another month, dooming the legislation’s chances of passing in its current form.

GOP leaders have not yet pulled the bill, indicating they’re holding out hope of winning over skeptics in their party in time to vote on the bill this week and send something to the Senate. Congress has until Sept. 30 to pass a funding extension or cause a partial government shutdown.

“It’s hard to pass anything in this place,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters Monday afternoon, citing his narrow majority. “I’m never going to give up on the country. We’ll keep our heads and work through it.”

The legislation unveiled Sunday night would extend government funding through October with an average 1% cut to current levels. Defense — the largest piece of the discretionary spending budget — and veterans programs would not see any cuts, while domestic programs would get cut by 8%.

The measure also includes most of a partisan border security package the House passed in May without Democratic support, except for a provision mandating employers electronically verify that new hires can legally work in the country.

With no Democrats expected to support the partisan bill, House Republicans hope to use it as leverage in spending negotiations with Senate Democrats and President Joe Biden, similar to their successful playbook used during the debt limit standoff.

But if Republicans can’t get enough support to pass the bill, they’ll lose any leverage their party has in the funding negotiations. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will then be forced to work with Democrats to pass a bipartisan stopgap bill — which could lead disgruntled members of right flank to trigger a vote attempting to remove him as speaker — or allow a government shutdown he wants to avoid.

“If I worried about that, I would have quit a long time ago,” McCarthy said when asked about happens if he can’t get the votes to pass the GOP bill. “We’re never going to quit.”

GOP Opposition

The Republicans who have announced they plan to vote against the package include: Reps. Dan Bishop of North Carolina; Tim Burchett of Tennessee; Eli Crane of Arizona; Matt Gaetz of Florida; Tony Gonzales of Texas; Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia; Anna Paulina Luna of Florida; Cory Mills of Florida; Ralph Norman of South Carolina; Andy Ogles of Tennessee; Matt Rosendale of Montana and Victoria Spartz of Indiana.

That’s more than enough votes to sink the package given Democrats are all expected to vote against it. With full attendance, Republicans cannot lose more than four votes and still pass legislation with votes from only their party.

The funding extension and border package was negotiated by a handful of ultraconservatives in the House Freedom Caucus and self-described “pragmatic” conservatives in the Republican Main Street Caucus.

Half of the members opposed to the bill — Bishop, Crane, Luna, Norman, Ogles and Rosendale — are members of the Freedom Caucus.

McCarthy said leadership and the members who put together the funding extension will continue to walk their colleagues through the bill in hopes of winning over skeptics.

“Maybe they haven’t seen it all,” he said. “Maybe they don’t understand it all.”

The holdouts do not have uniform reasons for their opposition, and it’s unclear if changes could be made that would flip enough of them to vote for the bill.

More than four Republicans opposed to the bill have said they would not support any funding extension, known as a continuing resolution or CR, and seemingly can’t be won over.

“I’m against a CR that’s an hour, a week, a month or a year,” Gonzales told The Messenger last week, noting he wants to pass the individual appropriations bills approved out of committee.

Gonzales reiterated his opposition to a “hollow” stopgap funding bill on X Sunday night after his colleagues’ plan was unveiled, saying it is “built to win a messaging battle” and “does nothing to keep America safe.”

“It’s crystal clear a [government] shutdown is coming,” he said.

Rosendale said on X that he’s made clear for months that he would not support any form of a stopgap spending bill that continues spending policies enacted in the prior Congress under Democratic control.

“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,” he said.

Mills suggested the funding extension his colleagues put together is just another “backroom” deal, saying he’s “not going to play this game.”

“Our job is to fund the US and take care of the American people,” he said on X.

Bishop agreed: “No CR. Pass the damn approps bills. Roll back the crazy bureaucracy to pre-COVID levels. Now.”

Seeking More Spending Cuts

A few Republicans said the spending cuts in the stopgap do not go far enough.

“We are over $32 trillion in debt because our government has been recklessly spending money with zero accountability,” Burchett said on X. “Any continuing resolution needs to make MAJOR cuts, both to our government’s ridiculous spending habits as well as the woke policies that have infiltrated it.”

Norman, according to a spokesperson, is planning to vote “no” because leadership has still not outlined “firm top line numbers for the remaining 11 appropriations bills” the House has yet to pass. He has wanted to see the math showing that all the spending bills collectively will not spend more than $1.47 trillion.

“Another source of Rep. Norman’s anger is that from every talking head, we’re hearing what House conservatives want will be D.O.A. in the Senate, so therefore the House must bow down and capitulate,” the spokesperson said.  “Rep. Norman believes that narrative wouldn’t exist if House leadership were truly willing to ‘go to the mat’ and fight earnestly for border security, fiscal responsibility, etc.  Sadly, there seems to be more concern for a temporary shutdown of nonessential services than legitimately fixing these problems.”

Spartz also indicated her opposition to the stopgap is about GOP leaders not making larger moves toward fiscal discipline. She said in a statement that neither party has demonstrated “the backbone to challenge the corrupt swamp that is bankrupting our children and grandchildren” as she took a direct shot at McCarthy.

“Unfortunately, real leadership takes courage and willingness to fight for the country, not for power and a picture on a wall,” Spartz said. “It is a shame that our weak Speaker cannot even commit to having a commission to discuss our looming fiscal catastrophe.”

Crane cited the national debt and “the Swamp’s commitment to the status quo” in one of his explanations on X.

“The managed decline of this country is no longer an option,” he said.

Defunding Special Counsel

Ogles dismissed the notion of a stopgap spending bill as “politics as usual, saying on X that it’s “time to stay in DC, no breaks until we pass all of the appropriations bills.”

Although Ogles later sent a follow up tweet suggesting some things to improve the stopgap spending bill. His suggestions included establishing House committee to reduce non-essential spending and using the Holman rule to defund Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the two federal prosecutions of former President Donald Trump.

Likewise Gaetz, Greene and Luna all mentioned the continued funding of Smith among their reasons for opposing the bill their colleagues put together.

The stopgap “funds the election interference of Jack Smith,” Gaetz said, explaining his opposition on X. He also noted that “lumping disparate agencies of Goverment into one big vote is a terrible idea.”

Luna is not in Washington after recently having a baby. And although she is still recovering from giving birth, as well as a four-day fever and infection, she said she is willing to fly north for the vote to formally register her opposition to the stopgap.

“If I’m needed, I’m coming,” she said in a statement to The Messenger, noting she “will fly to vote no because I know how important this is.”

Although the GOP funding extension does not appropriate more money for Ukraine, Greene took issue with it not including any prohibition on the Defense Department or other agencies spending available funds on Ukraine.

“All money is fungible,” she said on X. “So any money funded to Ukraine can go to whatever they want to use it for.”

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