House Republicans appear to be sticking with plans to pass a two-week stopgap funding bill, despite conservatives’ push to add an additional week to have the deadline bump up against New Years Eve instead of Christmas.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Tuesday declined to confirm plans to stick with a vote on a continuing resolution lasting through Dec. 22 but several Republicans leaving a GOP conference meeting where the matter was discussed indicated that was the decision.
Conservatives had been pushing for a CR lasting through Dec. 30, with the House Freedom Caucus on Monday threatening to derail a vote setting up a conference committee for the tax bill to make that point. The caucus had argued that the Dec. 22 CR would likely get entangled with tax overhaul negotiations resulting in a bad deal on one or both matters.
“We’re having a conversation with our members on what we think the best date forward is,” Ryan said. “You’ll see when we bring the bill the to the floor.”
While not revealing a decision, Ryan expressed confidence that the CR would have support for a majority of Republicans. The current continuing resolution expires Dec. 8.
“I feel like we’re going to have a majority, we’re going to have 218 for passing the CR we have this week,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “We’re having a good conversation with our members about exactly how to do this … about timing and date and tactics and all the rest.”
That conversation keeps getting longer. The House Rules Committee, which was scheduled to consider the two-week CR at a 2 p.m. meeting Tuesday, abruptly postponed that meeting shortly after noon and rescheduled it for 3 p.m. on Wednesday.
“We have postponed consideration of the CR today to allow more time for further discussion with our members,” said Rules Committee spokeswoman Caroline Boothe.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said his preference is for a two-week continuing resolution to keep the government open after Friday.
Democrats appear to be waiting and seeing as the Republicans hash things out.
“Republicans take great glory in being the majority party. With that status comes responsibility. They need to exercise it,” House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said. “We don’t even know when Republicans are going to ask for a CR to, at this point in time. They are in turmoil.”
“We’ll see what happens,” he continued.
Ryan: House Will Pass Short-Term CR, Shutdown Up to Senate Democrats
It was a commitment to ensuring that 218 Republicans support the Dec. 22 CR, as well as a second CR that is expected to be needed, that has shifted the conference’s willingness to proceed with the two-week stopgap, Freedom Caucus member Dave Brat said.
“All Republicans on this CR, all Republicans on the next CR, that means some of the bad stuff can’t make it in,” the Virginia Republican said.
The problem with that strategy is that in the Senate, a minimum of eight Democrats are needed to pass any spending bill, so some bipartisan agreement will be needed. Brat acknowledged that but suggested it is about not giving too much away.
“The response to us is, well you don’t have 60,” he said. “That’s right. But we won the House and Senate … so we should be passing Republican legislation.”
Asked if that strategy effectively sets up a shutdown showdown with Democrats, Brat said that’s not the goal but that Republicans need to hold their ground.
“You’re right they’re going to set up this massive drama,” he said. “And we need to respond rationally, and say, ’Look we’re compromising.’”
Freedom Caucus member Randy Weber said he has shifted his position to support the Dec. 22 CR and he believes the conference at large has as well.
“I think that’s become the sense of the conference. We had a good family discussion,” the Texas Republican said, citing the two-week CR as favorable because “the less time that we can give for anybody to put in a whole bunch of extraneous things” the more favorable the outcome on the second spending bill will be.
However, not all Freedom Caucus members were pleased with the decision.
“They’re going to be whipping to see if people are going to change their position,” Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert said. “I think basically they’ve told everybody what our will is.”
Indeed, leadership allies like House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, left the conference meeting before the discussion was even over announcing the plan to stick with the Dec. 22 CR.
Leadership argued for the Dec. 22 CR, former House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said, noting “most people agreed it’s the proper way to go.”
Asked why that’s preferable to Dec. 30, he said, “It gives us the opportunity to put the things we want in the CR and pass it and go home.”
Jennifer Shutt and Joe Williams contributed to this story.