House Speaker Kevin McCarthy went back to the drawing board after a large faction of his Republicans shot down a stopgap spending bill, saying he would try again on Saturday just hours before the shutdown deadline.
The speaker’s team planned to work through the night to sway the 21 conservative lawmakers who voted no and defeated the temporary spending bill, despite sweeteners such as spending cuts and border security measures.
Hoping to avert a partial government shutdown at midnight Saturday, Mr. McCarthy said he had tried to enlist the help of House Democrats with the offer of a “clean” bill to extend current levels of government funding into the new fiscal year that begins Sunday.
“I have talked to Democrats, unfortunately, Democrats don’t even want to vote for a clean [bill],” Mr. McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol.
A sticking point for Democrats is that temporary funding must include more aid for the Ukraine war effort.
Senate Majority Leader Charles S. Schumer, New York Democrat, has primed the Senate to pass stopgap legislation that includes $6 billion in Ukraine aid and zero border provisions.
More money for Ukraine, however, is a non-starter for House Republicans and a faction of Senate Republicans.
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida led the contingent of conservatives, many of them Freedom Caucus members, who killed the bill on Friday. Many of these lawmakers have vowed to never vote for short-term spending legislation, insisting that Congress instead pass spending bills one by one.
The House has passed four of the 12 annual appropriations bills for fiscal 2024. The Senate has not passed any.
Mr. McCarthy said the House will continue to work on the remaining appropriations bills, though that effort will likely occur amid a partial government shutdown and the appropriations process could drag on for weeks if not months.
The speaker also canceled lawmakers’ October recess to keep working on the full-year spending bills.
The plan for Saturday was for Mr. McCarthy’s team to wrangle the 21 conservative holdouts throughout the night to try to get them to back a shorter 14-day version of the failed stopgap bill.
The effort had gained some early momentum with holdouts such as Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado warming to the idea. Some lawmakers said that as many as 12 of the holdouts had softened their opposition to a stopgap bill.
“We’ve had a lot of them agree to it because we don’t want to accept what the Senate has because it’s ludicrous what they’re doing,” said Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, a member of the Freedom Caucus who recently switched sides to back Mr. McCarthy’s efforts.
The speaker’s goal remains to get a short-term measure to the Democrat-run Senate, giving House Republicans something to bargain with.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus demanded that leadership give some kind of schedule for spending bills, and Mr. McCarthy relented.
A schedule for moving the spending bills was circulated to members at a GOP conference meeting. The schedule ran from Oct. 1 to Nov. 2.
Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana, one of the lawmakers that has pledged to never vote for a stopgap bill, said that the schedule was too spread out and needed to be compressed.
“We were able to get four bills done this week,” Mr. Rosendale told The Washington Times. “I would like us to focus our energy and time and effort on compressing the schedule down and bringing up the balance of the bills so we can fund the government in a transparent, responsible way.”
Many House Republicans were irate that their colleagues were forcing a partial government shutdown that threatened political consequences for the party.
Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska said that some people in the conference would never support a stopgap.
Mr. Bacon and fellow members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus produced a stopgap bill that failed to gain traction.
“This is not rocket science, you’ve got to work across the aisle to get 218 votes,” Mr. Bacon said.
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