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Republicans Scurry to Advance Agendas Before Recess

Price's budget goes to the House floor without the additional defense spending national security hawks had insisted upon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Price's budget goes to the House floor without the additional defense spending national security hawks had insisted upon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans will go home for recess at the end of this week with plenty to tell their constituents — namely that they picked a new slate of leadership (if all goes according to plan) and avoided a government shutdown (with hours to spare).  

Over the next four days, they’ll also lay the groundwork on some other legislative items that could play well back in their districts. On Friday, the House Budget Committee will take up the package of reconciliation bills that three other individual House panels marked up last week to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood, in keeping with the promise Republican leaders made to members when they went ahead and put a “clean” government funding bill on the floor.  

Reconciliation bills are limited to measures that would result in changes in revenue and spending. They can be used only once per budget cycle and can’t be filibustered in the Senate, meaning the Republican-controlled Congress could finally be on its way to sending a bill to the president’s desk that accomplishes two of its most ambitious policy objectives.  

“While reconciliation is not a silver bullet, it is a powerful tool, and one we remain committed to using,” Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., said in a statement announcing the Oct. 9 committee markup. That’s one day after Price is scheduled to face off against Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., in the leadership election for majority leader.  

President Barack Obama has promised he would veto the legislation, but GOP leaders can still send their members home on Friday with proof the Republican House is moving ahead with a plan to force the administration to confront both issues.  

Elsewhere, another contingent of House Republicans will be collecting signatures on a “discharge petition,” a legislative maneuver to force a vote on the floor on a piece of legislation within a certain number of days.  

In this case, the discharge petition would be to reauthorize the lapsed Export-Import Bank.  

Republicans who support the agency were unable to overcome conservative pressure to prevent the bank’s charter from expiring at the end of June. Fed up with leadership’s refusal to bring up a reauthorization bill — Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Scalise are among the critics of the Ex-Im Bank — a healthy faction of GOP lawmakers are ready to band with Democrats to move legislation out of the House.  

Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., is leading the effort to get at least 30 Republican signatures on the discharge petition. Though nearly every House Democrat is in favor of reopening the bank, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi indicated last week her members would not sign onto the document until Republicans had shown publicly they have votes on their side of the aisle to reach the magic 218-vote threshold to compel legislative action.  

Should the discharge petition signature drive not prove successful, however, Fincher and others have one last card up their sleeves: Convincing Speaker John A. Boeher to allow an up-or-down vote on reopening the Ex-Im Bank before the Ohio Republican resigns at the end of October.

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