The House this week will look to take up a GOP-crafted continuing resolution to fund the government beyond Sept. 30 — the conference’s opening move in Congress’s quest to avoid an end-of-the-month shutdown.
A coalition of Republicans announced an internal deal for the stopgap bill Sunday night, which would extend the funding deadline by a month, cut all spending except for the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and enact a large part of the House GOP’s marquee border bill, H.R. 2.
But a number of conservatives are already voicing opposition to the legislation, setting the scene for another tricky math problem for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as he looks to secure a stronger position in eventual negotiations with Senate Democrats and the White House over avoiding a shutdown.
To be sure, the proposal for a stopgap bill is likely dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate because of the spending cuts and border provisions included. But the legislation, nonetheless, marks the House GOP’s first move in the process to avert a shutdown.
On the Senate side, lawmakers this week will look to move forward on a package of appropriations bills after a GOP senator objected to the bundle last week, mucking up the process, which has been largely bipartisan.
Also this week, Attorney General Merrick Garland will face some of his fiercest GOP opponents when he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday — one week after Hunter Biden was prosecuted, and months after McCarthy floated an impeachment inquiry involving the top official.
House GOP to take up continuing resolution
House GOP leadership is eyeing a vote this week on a continuing resolution to keep the government open past Sept. 30 — but whether or not the legislation has enough support in the conference remains to be seen.
Two factions in the House GOP conference — the conservative Freedom Caucus and the pragmatic conservative Main Street Caucus — announced a deal on a continuing resolution Sunday night. The stopgap bill would fund the government through Oct. 31, keep the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs at current levels and cut all discretionary spending by 8 percent. It also includes the House GOP’s border bill, dubbed H.R. 2, without its provision about E-Verify.
The agreement is also to pass legislation to fund the Pentagon, which GOP leaders had to punt on last week after conservatives planned to block consideration of the measure over demands for deeper spending cuts. It does not, however, include any funding for Ukraine or disaster relief funds, which the White House had requested as part of a supplemental with the idea of attaching it to a continuing resolution.
The plan is to vote on the Pentagon appropriations bill Wednesday and the continuing resolution on Thursday, according to a source on a call with Republican lawmakers.
But a number of conservatives quickly lined up against the legislation, putting into question whether or not it will have enough GOP votes to pass. Democrats are likely to oppose the legislation — the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee sharply criticized it on Sunday — meaning McCarthy will have to wrangle enough votes from his party.
At least seven conservatives have either definitively said they will not support the legislation, or they have raised issues with it.
“For months, I have made it very clear that I will not be supporting a CR. And this week is no different. A CR is a continuation of Nancy Pelosi’s budget and Joe Biden’s policies. We were assured in January that we weren’t going to use the Democrats’ gimmicks to fund government and that we would deliver the 12 appropriations bills, thereby funding government responsibly and transparently, which is why I will be voting against the CR this week,” Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) wrote on X.
The proposal from House Republicans comes as time is running out to avert an end-of-the-month shutdown: the lower chamber is scheduled to be in session for just eight more legislative days before the deadline.
Senate charts unknown course ahead on minibus amid GOP opposition
The Senate this week will look to move ahead on a package of appropriations — known as a “minibus” — after conservatives objected to the legislation last week, mucking up the process, which up until this point has been largely bipartisan.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) last Thursday refused to grant consent to begin voting on amendments for the minibus — which would fund military construction and the departments of Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development — putting the process on hold and sparking criticism from both sides of the aisle.
Johnson is demanding that the minibus — which includes three appropriations bills — be broken up into separate bills. Doing so, however, would likely take the Senate weeks to consider the legislation.
“Members cannot have it both ways. They cannot block floor consideration of appropriations bills that were unanimously reported by the committee and yet maintain they don’t want an omnibus bill. It’s one or the other — or a government shutdown, even worse,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the vice chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, said on the Senate floor.
“And now all of a sudden you have a group, a small group in the Senate, trying to mimic [the] Freedom Caucus in the House and holding up the defense bill, which had huge bipartisan support,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. ”Republican leaders have to reject this MAGA Republicanism for the good of the country and for the good of their party.”
Johnson’s objection came after the Senate split 85-12 on a cloture vote for the minibus. The path forward, however, will likely remain unknown until Tuesday at the earliest, after senators huddle for their weekly lunches, a Senate GOP aide told The Hill. The Senate on Monday is scheduled to vote on a judicial nominee.
In a post on X last Friday, the Wisconsin Republican pointed to the ballooning deficit when making his case for splitting up the bills.
“We are $33 trillion in debt, this year’s deficit will exceed $1.7 trillion, and we will spend $1.9 trillion more than we spent in FY2019. Spending is out-of-control. A minibus 3 weeks before fiscal year’s end is not regular order, but debating and passing Milcon/VA would be.” Johnson wrote.
Garland to face GOP critics in House hearing
Garland will come face-to-face with some of top Republican opponents this week when he appears before the House Judiciary Committee — months after McCarthy floated an impeachment inquiry involving the chief law enforcement officer.
The hearing — scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. — is being billed as oversight of the Department of Justice (DOJ) that “will examine how the Justice Department has become politicized and weaponized” under Garland’s leadership. It will likely cover the legal proceedings surrounding Hunter Biden amid allegations from GOP lawmakers that the DOJ treated him with more leniency because he is the president’s son.
The hearing comes the week after Hunter Biden was indicted on three gun-related charges. Prosecutors announced a plea deal involving Hunter Biden in June, but it fell apart the next month, which led to his eventual indictment. It also comes the week after McCarthy launched an impeachment inquiry into President Biden.
The potential impeachment inquiry involving Garland rests on testimony House Republicans heard from a pair of IRS whistleblowers in July who accused authorities of slow-walking the case against Hunter Biden, and showing preferential treatment to the president’s son.
One of the whistleblowers, IRS supervisor Gary Shapley, said U.S. Attorney for Delaware David Weiss sought — but was denied — special counsel status for the Hunter Biden case. However, Weiss, who allegedly tried to bring charges outside Delaware, has denied ever asking for special counsel status, and maintains that he was told he could receive special attorney status through another statute if he wanted to file charges outside his district.
Garland’s testimony also comes as Republican-led investigations in the House are requesting information from the attorney general as part of their probes. Last week, the House Judiciary Committee, House Oversight Committee and House Ways and Means Committee sent Garland a letter asking about information on any attempts to pressure the DOJ to prosecute the pair of IRS whistleblowers.