House Republicans failed late Thursday night to pass one of their party’s slimmed-down spending measures, another fumble by GOP leaders just days before an impending government shutdown.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy plans to move Friday to a narrower GOP stopgap funding patch that’s loaded up with spending cuts and border policies, though that measure currently lacks the votes from his own party that it needs to pass. House and Senate leaders are still not coordinating on a deal to stave off the funding lapse that’s set to take effect at midnight Sunday.
In the end, Republicans faltered on one out of the four full-year measures bills, only the bill that funds the Department of Agriculture. A separate measure on Ukraine aid, which was stripped out of GOP’s Pentagon funding bill earlier this week, was also approved overwhelmingly, with all Democrats joining to back the bill.
Still, none of those measures — to fund the Pentagon, the State Department or the Homeland Security department — would help Congress deal with a funding deadline just two days away. McCarthy and his team will now pivot to rounding up the votes for a GOP-drafted short-term funding bill, which includes billions of spending cuts and new border security provisions. That measure is seen as the path to negotiating with the Senate and, perhaps, ultimately striking a deal.
“It’s all part of the leadership’s strategy to get to a CR. And to win our conference on the notion of a CR, we had to demonstrate some progress” on spending bills, said Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), referring to a tide-me-over funding patch known as a continuing resolution.
So far though, McCarthy and his allies remain short on the votes for any stopgap — even loaded up with GOP policies. McCarthy plans to hold a press conference Friday morning to discuss next steps.
“I don’t know how many Democrats will vote for it, but it doesn’t have enough Republicans to pass,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).
The Senate, meanwhile, has begun working on its own stopgap bill, which lawmakers on that side of the Capitol hope to pass on Saturday — hours before funding would expire — though timing remains fluid. That bill could include a possible side deal on border policy, as dealmakers such as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) work toward a multi-billion-dollar proposal to win support from the House GOP.
It’s unclear how Republicans will proceed if they are unable to lock down the votes for a short-term bill before Saturday.
But what is unlikely: Finding agreement to pass the GOP’s own agriculture bill, which has been stalled for weeks. Dozens of Republicans have privately said they would oppose the bill, thanks to abortion policy and steep cuts to farm programs.
Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) said he is personally brushing off the loss.
While leadership may believe that any failed vote is a “failure,” Armstrong argued it’s not the case if Republicans stuck with the process and allowed debate — despite a slim four-seat majority.
“I think we need to change the way we think about some of this. Let it go, put it to the back of the line, go to the next one.”
Caitlin Emma contributed.
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