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House GOP makes first move in stopgap funding fight

Doubts already surface about Republicans' opening bid to avert shutdown on Oct. 1

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., one of the lead negotiators on temporary funding bill, is seen in the Capitol on Sept. 14.
Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., one of the lead negotiators on temporary funding bill, is seen in the Capitol on Sept. 14. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans unveiled a stopgap funding measure Sunday night that would avoid a partial government shutdown next month and provide border security measures sought by conservatives. But passage even in the GOP-controlled House was already in doubt as some hard-liners came out against the measure Sunday night while the ink on it was barely dry.

The draft continuing resolution would extend current funding through Oct. 31, while cutting 8.1 percent from all nondefense accounts except for the Department of Veterans Affairs and disaster relief. That extension would give lawmakers an extra month to try to complete fiscal 2024 appropriations that are otherwise needed by Sept. 30.

However, the bill doesn’t include additional Ukraine aid or disaster relief money sought by the Biden administration. That omission, plus the bill’s nondefense cuts and some of the immigration language, would likely trigger a clash with the Democratic-controlled Senate with only two weeks to go before a partial government shutdown.

The bill is set for floor consideration this week, along with the fiscal 2024 Defense spending bill that stalled last week when conservative detractors threatened to vote against the rule needed to take it up.

As added insurance for defense hawks given the $826.4 billion full-year Pentagon bill — with numerous partisan riders — is going nowhere fast in the Senate, Republicans included a special “anomaly” to give the military brass extraordinary flexibility. The CR would allow the Pentagon to spend whatever’s necessary as though the House’s fiscal 2024 bill had become law instead.

And in some added red meat for conservatives, the stopgap bill would omit a provision that makes additional funds for the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children available, which advocates say will result in beneficiaries being turned away this fall.

The Rules Committee plans to take up the stopgap measure Monday.

Border provisions

To win new support among the GOP’s right wing, the stopgap bill includes many provisions designed to secure the southern border that were part of legislation the House passed earlier this year. That measure would restrict asylum eligibility for migrants journeying to the U.S.-Mexico border, reinstate family detention, heighten penalties for visa overstays and restart border wall construction, among other things.

But the new bill omits provisions designed to toughen the E-Verify system, a website run by the Homeland Security Department that allows employers to determine the eligibility of workers and screen out the undocumented.

The legislation came together after extensive talks between two factions of the House GOP: the hard-right Freedom Caucus and the Main Street Caucus. The bill’s co-sponsors come from both factions. Reps. Byron Donalds of Florida, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and Chip Roy of Texas are Freedom Caucus members, while Reps. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma, and Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota are leaders of the Main Street Caucus.

GOP leaders are confident the bill will pass the House, an aide said, adding that the whip team also was involved in coordinating the negotiations. The GOP conference discussed the proposal in a conference call Sunday night.

But passage is far from guaranteed given Republicans’ razor-thin control of the House. 

Already some GOP hard-liners came out against the measure Sunday night, including Reps. Eli Crane of Arizona, Matt Rosendale of Montana and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

Matt Gaetz of Florida, one of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s main antagonists, indicated as much in his own post on X, formerly known as Twitter. In a response to a post by Steve Bannon — onetime consigliere to former President Donald Trump — saying Donalds is “responsible for this surrender, Gaetz wrote: “I will NOT surrender.”

And the bill is unlikely to win much support from Democrats.

The top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, issued a statement Sunday night excoriating Republicans for proposing spending cuts that she said would harm the National Institutes of Health, police, and allies including Ukraine and Israel.

“House Republicans want to shut down the government because House Democrats, Senate Republicans and Democrats, and President Biden oppose their extreme cuts that will make working families pay even more for the things they need at a time when the cost of living is already too high,” DeLauro said. “As I said last week when they had to pull the Defense bill from floor consideration, it is time to end the charade and to get to work.”  

Even Roy, one of the measure’s co-sponsors, wrote on X that a shutdown was likely since Senate Democrats would reject it.

The news of the tentative agreement came hours after McCarthy reported “good progress” on a continuing resolution in an interview on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.” He also announced that the House would take up the Defense bill this week.

McCarthy also asserted that border security measures could win bipartisan support, saying, “Everyone wants this border secure. We’ll win that argument.” But Democrats have opposed resuming construction of a border wall that they view as excessively costly and ineffective.

The duration of a short-term funding extension has been in dispute for weeks. Democrats had pushed for funding to last into December, as Congress often does, to allow more time for full-year appropriations talks. But McCarthy had warned for weeks he would not back a continuing resolution that bumps up against the Christmas recess. While there had been talk of an extension lasting until early or mid-November, the draft extends funding only through October.

The bill also would extend the federal flood insurance program to the end of October, from its expiration date of Sept. 30. It also would extend an increase in federal wildland firefighter pay.

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