House GOP pulls key vote on stopgap spending bill amid conservative opposition

House GOP leadership pulled a procedural vote on a proposed short-term funding stopgap that has bitterly divided the Republican conference and elicited opposition from hard-line conservatives.

The House was scheduled to vote at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday on the rule to allow the GOP continuing resolution (CR) proposal to move forward, but an update sent out shortly before noon did not list the procedural vote.

The Democratic Whip’s office confirmed that “The House GOP Leadership” made changes to the floor schedule. The office’s updated schedule did not include the rule vote.

The House could hold the procedural vote later in the day, but the postponement marks a setback for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and GOP leadership, who hoped that the conference would coalesce around the stopgap proposal in order to increase their leverage in future negotiations with the Senate and White House.

Asked about pulling the rule Tuesday, McCarthy told reporters, “I’m just recircling it; we have people talking together.”

Pressed on when he would bring the rule to the floor, he responded, “It’s coming up.”

The turmoil around the partisan CR proposal is leaving House Republicans in a sticky situation that members widely agree has no clear way forward without further inflaming Republican tensions — and potentially threatening McCarthy’s leadership.

The legislation, crafted by leaders in the Main Street Caucus and the House Freedom Caucus, would avert a government shutdown by extending government funding until Oct. 31 along with an 8 percent cut to all discretionary spending outside the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, plus the bulk of the House GOP’s H.R. 2 border crackdown bill that they passed earlier this year.

But upwards of a dozen GOP members — more than enough to sink the plan in the slim GOP majority — swiftly said they would oppose the legislation, with many insisting on their longtime asks for lower overall spending levels.

As leaders delayed the procedural vote, many members huddled in House Majority Whip Tom Emmer’s (R-Minn.) office. 

In it, Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) — chair of the Republican Study Committee, the largest conservative caucus in the  House — pitched a possible alternative plan for the partisan stopgap bill. That plan would reduce spending to fiscal year 2022 levels as outlined in the House GOP “Limit, Save, Grow” debt limit bill passed earlier this year, plus boost border security funding.

Some members, including Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), made a similar proposal to members at a closed-door conference meeting on Tuesday morning. He said that the border provisions and a commitment to lower spending lower in appropriations bills would receive enough GOP support to clear the chamber.

“I think you could get 218 in the conference,” Good said.

It remains unclear if writing the stopgap bill at fiscal year 2022 levels would garner enough support within the conference. But House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who helped craft the continuing resolution, said he is “of course” open to making changes to the legislation.

The procedural vote was in clear peril as members left the full GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning. Lawmakers said they saw little sign that the holdouts were shifting positions.

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), a member of the Freedom Caucus, said he planned to vote against the procedural rule to allow for consideration of the CR — and predicted that enough would join him to sink the procedural vote.

The conservative lawmaker said he likes the continuing resolution — and “loves” the 8 percent cuts it includes — but would oppose the rule over a demand that leadership provide hardliners with the top-line figures for all 12 appropriations bills. Conservatives have been asking for those numbers for months.

“I just want to see the total,” Norman told reporters. “A pie has a lot of different ingredients. I want to see all the ingredients that leadership will commit to putting in this pie.”

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who also helped craft the CR proposal, expressed frustration with the opposition to the CR.

“I find it extremely difficult to explain or defend opposition to an 8 percent cut over 30 days in exchange for the most conservative and strong border security measure we’ve ever passed out of this body,” Roy said. “I think that is inexplicable. I think it’s malpractice. And I think that there are some outside groups who are trying to advance themselves that are a part of this that are that are pushing this narrative, that it’s somehow malpractice to do that.”

Perry urged his colleagues to support the legislation even if they do not “love it,” recognizing that anything the Senate may send them will be less conservative.

“This is a proposal, I speak for myself, it doesn’t mean that I love it but I am working with my colleagues to secure one of two paths,” Perry told reporters. “The one path is where we offer something and the American people can see what we stand for. The other path is, quite honestly, accepting whatever the Senate sends us which is likely to be 100 percent worse than everything and anything that we stand for.”

“So let’s pick the option that best suits us even though we don’t necessarily love it and we want to hear every voice and get it as perfect as we can, understanding that we represent millions of people across the country and there are gonna be differences of opinions,” he added. “So you’re not gonna get every single thing that you want. But if you don’t do something, you’re not gonna get anything.”

Updated at 12:49 p.m.


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