WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Saturday set up floor debate for this upcoming week on four fiscal 2024 appropriations bills after making combined cuts of nearly $3.8 billion from agriculture and foreign aid programs compared with original committee-reported versions.
But it’s not yet clear they’ll have the votes to adopt the expansive rule, which covers debate and 440 amendments to the Defense, Homeland Security, Agriculture and State-Foreign Operations measures. And a continuing resolution to simply keep federal agencies’ lights on beyond Sept. 30 was still nowhere in sight amid an ongoing revolt by ultra-conservatives in that chamber.
“There are still a few members that won’t vote for funding the government while we finish all the 12 bills. I don’t understand,” said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who spoke to reporters outside the Rules Committee’s meeting Saturday. He said he was still hoping to avoid a partial government shutdown as members “that have been holding off all this time blaming everybody else, will finally, hopefully, move off.”
GOP conference members held a conference call Saturday afternoon to discuss the schedule, and what to do about a CR, after the Rules panel adopted the rule for floor debate on the four full-year bills on a 9-2 vote.
Republicans are looking at taking the base text of a stopgap bill they introduced last week, extending the length from one month to six weeks, cutting the annualized funding rate and adding border security legislation and a fiscal commission to look at long-term deficit reduction measures. But nothing’s been released yet or scheduled for floor action.
The House has passed just one of the dozen spending bills, the fiscal 2024 Military Construction-VA measure. The Senate has passed none, after a three-bill package stalled last week.
House conservatives have been demanding $115 billion in cuts to the remaining bills, and some like Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., have led a push for the chamber to focus on passing revised versions of the full-year bills before considering any CR. Gaetz also said he won’t vote for a CR in any case.
Now even the stated desire to return to “regular order” consideration of individual spending bills is in some doubt. The rule contains an unusual new provision that sparked a protest from Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., though he ultimately voted to adopt the rule in committee after voting with the Democrats on their unsuccessful attempt to strike it.
The provision would hold the Homeland Security measure at the desk rather than send it to the Senate unless the GOP border security legislation is first enacted into law, a provision Massie said “really crosses the line” and would set a bad precedent for the chamber.
“We promised the American people regular order,” Massie said before voting for Colorado Democrat Joe Neguse’s amendment to strike the provision.
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