House Republicans are eyeing a short-term funding stopgap to keep the government open past the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 as lawmakers struggle through an appropriations process characterized by conservatives’ push to slash spending.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on a GOP conference call Monday evening that the House will likely have to pass a short-term solution known as a continuing resolution (CR), according to two sources on the call.
McCarthy said he does not want the CR to be jammed at the end of the year or stretch into the December holidays, the sources added.
But a CR likely won’t come easily.
Some members of the party’s right flank have stressed they will only vote for bills that set funding at fiscal 2022 levels, and a CR would keep spending the same as in fiscal 2023.
Border issues and Ukraine funding could also add wrinkles to passing the stopgap solution.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and 14 other Texas Republicans signed a letter last week pledging to vote against any bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security unless there are major changes to the U.S. border and migration policy. That would be more than enough opposition in a slim GOP majority to require Democratic votes to pass a continuing resolution.
And the White House last week unveiled a $40 billion supplemental funding request that includes $24 billion in military, financial and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, which is already sparking opposition from Republicans who have become critical of funding for Kyiv.
“While the border remains wide open, crime in major cities is out of control, and Americans cannot afford daily necessities — Biden wants $24 billion MORE for Ukraine. Put America first,” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
One GOP member is pessimistic about government funding when lawmakers return to Washington in September.
“I just got off a member call – it’s clear President Biden and Speaker McCarthy want a government shutdown, so that’s what Congress will do after we return in September. Everyone should plan accordingly,” Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) said on X.
House lawmakers have just 12 days in session before the Sept. 30 funding deadline.
The House has passed just one of 12 appropriations bills thus far: It cleared legislation to fund military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs and related agencies just before breaking for the long August recess. But that same week, House GOP leadership scrapped its plan to vote on a bill to fund agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration as intraparty differences put the measure in jeopardy.
House Democrats have opposed the GOP funding bills because the party marked the appropriations bills up at levels lower than spending caps agreed to by McCarthy and President Biden in a debt limit deal earlier this year.
The Senate — which has not passed any of its 12 appropriations bills — marked up its legislation at levels in line with the debt limit deal struck by McCarthy and Biden, putting the two chambers on a collision course that could bring the government to the brink of a shutdown.
But lawmakers have an incentive to fully fund the government by Jan. 1, due to a provision in the debt limit bill to slash discretionary spending across the board by one percent if Congress has not completed the spending bills.