Updated 10:22 PM EDT, Sun September 17, 2023
House Republicans are moving ahead with a plan to temporarily fund the government while beefing up border security – a proposal that is dead on arrival in the Senate and even faces difficulties in the House, raising the likelihood of a government shutdown at the end of the month.
A group of six Republican members – three from the conservative House Freedom Caucus and three from the centrist-leaning Main Street Caucus – worked through the weekend to finalize a tentative deal on a short-term spending plan that they hope will get buy-in from across the Republican conference.
But a number of GOP hardliners immediately blasted the agreement on a private call Sunday night, leaving House Republicans once again at a major impasse on spending.
The agreement, according to GOP sources familiar with the matter, would pair a 31-day continuing resolution with a House GOP-passed border security package, but without the bill’s provisions on E-Verify, a national immigration status database.
The short-term spending bill also would impose some spending cuts instead of keeping the government funded at current levels. While the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs would be maintained at funding levels, other agencies would face a roughly 8% cut.
The bill does not include the White House request for $40 billion in supplemental funding for natural disasters and the war in Ukraine, which Senate leaders in both parties want attached to any temporary funding bill.
Conservatives including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Ralph Norman of South Carolina raised concerns about the deal on the call Sunday. Others blasted the plan on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, raising doubts that the measure can pass Thursday, when leaders had hoped it could come to the floor for a vote.
“I will not surrender,” Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida wrote as he retweeted a post from Steve Bannon blasting the deal.
The framework represents an agreement by two key corners of the GOP, but there is still no guarantee it would have the 218 votes needed to pass the House. Since all Democrats are likely to oppose the bill, that means Speaker Kevin McCarthy can afford to lose only a handful of Republicans – and at least three hardliners have already signaled they are against any short-term bill.
And even if House Republicans are able to pass the bill, it will certainly be rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate, meaning Congress is no closer to avoiding a government shutdown.
But McCarthy is trying to move something across the finish line to fund the government that has Republican buy-in and doesn’t rely on Democratic votes, which could put his speakership at risk.
The opposition from hard-line Republicans in the House now raises questions on what, if anything, the chamber can pass. During the call Sunday night, it was also announced the House would try to pass a stand-alone defense spending bill Wednesday, but that legislation failed to pass last week after House Republicans couldn’t even unite around a procedural vote.
The six negotiators for the tentative deal were Main Street Caucus Reps. Stephanie Bice, Dusty Johnson and Kelly Armstrong and Freedom Caucus Reps. Byron Donalds, Chip Roy and Scott Perry.