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House Republicans Exploring Alternate Shutdown Avoidance

House Republicans are exploring alternative ways to fund the government from their original plan. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
House Republicans are exploring alternative ways to fund the government from their original plan. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Faced with a growing unease about House Republican leaders’ plans to fund the government past next week, the GOP is talking about alternatives. 

Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker of North Carolina told Roll Call that there are other government funding options being discussed by the GOP conference other than the unpopular two-week continuing resolution, including a CR that would last until December 30.

“We had probably, and without exaggeration, maybe our most healthy conference that we’ve had,” Walker said of House Republicans’ Friday morning meeting discussing spending and other issues like the evolving tax overhaul and status of efforts to update sexual assault procedures.

Walker said spending was more of a focus than taxes, and that members productively aired their frustrations with the rollout of a plan to advance a CR lasting through December 22. He said he is a “lean no” on that plan and his gut says most members whipped as “no,” “lean no” or “undecided” as whip team members surveyed the conference during Friday’s vote series.

“I don’t think this thing passes,” Walker said. “I think they’re probably going to have to push something into January. At the same time you have defense and military issues when you do that. This is probably going to be a main topic of conversation going into next week.”

Walker confirmed that one option discussed was a CR lasting through December 30.

“We just think that in the throws of tax reform over the next two weeks and then trying to spin out of that and get something done in a day or two there right before Christmas, we just don’t think that puts us in the healthiest place,” he said.

Another member, speaking anonymously to discuss the internal conference deliberations, said the December 30 option was discussed as a way to get more Republicans on board but with the caveat that GOP leaders would not cave to Democrats’ demands on whatever spending bill comes after that.

Alabama Rep. Gary Palmer, a member of the RSC and the House Freedom Caucus, said a lot of good ideas were discussed in conference but he declined to share them.

“I think the leadership’s open to taking another look,” he said. “We’ll see.”

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