House GOP Leaders Struggling to Pass Spending Bill

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted September 11, 2013 at 3:09pm

House Republican leaders have pushed consideration of a short-term spending bill until next week over what appears to be yet another problem getting votes from their own party.

With conservatives crying foul and vowing to oppose the spending bill, GOP sources on Wednesday afternoon acknowledged that leaders need more time to convince rank-and-file lawmakers to support the plan they outlined Tuesday. Sources also blamed other factors, such as continued debate on the situation in Syria, for the delay.

“This was just announced yesterday and we always anticipated 72 hours would not likely be enough time to work on this complicated plan,” said one GOP leadership aide. “So we’ll take an extra couple days to work on it.”

The plan, as presented to members, would involve passing a continuing resolution to run through Dec. 15 at the current sequester levels. It would be sent to the Senate along with a concurrent resolution demanding the chamber take an up-or-down vote on defunding Obamacare before it can consider the stop-gap spending bill.

But that plan has been panned by many tea-party-inspired members, who were tweeting about their opposition using the hashtag “hocuspocus.” Others have said it is a “gimmick” and not a serious attempt to defund the health care law.

Influential conservative advocacy groups have pledged to key vote even the rule on this iteration of the CR; Club for Growth President Chris Chocola released a statement asking whether this is just a news story ripped from the headlines of the satirical newspaper The Onion.

With opposition mounting, the prospect of passing the CR with just Republican support was looking grim on Wednesday.

Democrats are expected to almost uniformly reject the Republican legislation for the language relating to the health care law and also for the fact that it funds government programs at the sequester levels rather than offers a comprehensive replacement.

But GOP leaders indicated they are confident they can eventually surmount the obstacles to passage.

“It’s complicated stuff and members have had very little time to process it,” said another GOP leadership staffer. “Most people who think through all the moves in the legislative chess game realize this plan is likeliest to yield the best result — but it takes a while to think and talk it through.”

“We’re still discussing strategy regarding the continuing resolution with our conference,” said another aide with House Republican leadership.

Leaders will likely be spending the days ahead in dialogue with members about the political reality of putting forth a CR that threatens a government shutdown over Obamacare, when the Democratic-controlled Senate and, of course, the White House would never sign off on such a plan.

The current plan, leadership will argue, allows House members to be on record on the issue and forces the Senate to do the same.

The House also has to contend with the Senate, where Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikluski, D-Md., is skeptical of the GOP’s ability to deliver something all sides can work with.

“They have kind of painted themselves in a box,” she told CQ Roll Call on Wednesday. “I think they could get a rule if in fact they had the sense of real compromise to get us not only to a short-term CR, but also to an omnibus right after Thanksgiving.
“If they want a vote, let’s vote again,” Mikulski continued in reference to the Obamacare maneuver and sequester-level CR. “It’ll be the 40th time I’ve voted on it, but let’s have a plan where we’re willing to compromise on the top line, but they have to come up from, you know, their number.”
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.