House GOP begins to coalesce around interim funding plan

The seeds of a plan to avoid a partial government shutdown appeared to be germinating in the House on Thursday, which could allow conservative Republicans to vote in favor of an initial stopgap funding bill to strengthen their leverage in negotiations with the Senate.

Main Street Caucus members Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma and Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, along with Freedom Caucus members Chip Roy of Texas, Byron Donalds of Florida and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, have been at the helm of intra-party talks.

The group met for several hours Wednesday evening, with border security the focus of the talks. Donalds and Roy said Thursday that talks are ongoing and also involve other members of the GOP conference.

“We are having serious discussions about what we think is the way forward. So we’ve been working diligently to have these discussions, but right now we’re still talking,” Donalds said. “I think the majority of members – all members of our conference – want to see the federal government do its job under the law, which includes ensuring the security of our southern border.

Conservatives want to join legislation passed by the House in May, in part or in whole, that would restrict asylum eligibility for migrants traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border, reinstate family detention, increase penalties in case of visa overstay and would restart the construction of the border wall.

This measure could potentially be combined with reductions in current spending levels that would otherwise be extended under a continuing resolution. Other measures negotiators could include are provisions to block enforcement of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives rules dealing with gun slings and background checks for gun owners.

In an opinion piece for The Federalist published Thursday, Roy mentioned these policies, as well as blocking funds for the FBI’s new “multi-billion dollar” headquarters; reimburse the Texas government for $10 billion spent on border security; and removing Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas from office.

“There will be some who cower at this idea – claiming that we will be ‘blamed’ for the government shutdown,” Roy wrote. “But what we should really fear is refusing to fight to uphold the Constitution, to do what we said we would do, and to defend American security. »

The bridge funding and other measures could be combined with a revived defense appropriations bill for fiscal 2024, which Republicans say already contains conservative priorities such as banning funds for paid leave and employee travel costs to obtain an abortion.

Roy and other conservatives have a series of additional amendments to propose under the floor debate rules, which they say take aim at “woke” policies, such as banning cash for the month’s celebration pride and for diversity, equity and inclusion. initiatives.

All of these items as well as potentially the Homeland Security appropriations bill could be considered as early as next week, giving the Senate time to respond. It is extremely unlikely that this chamber would approve such a package coming from the House, but it would give senators a vehicle to at least trade their own CR, which is expected to include additional disaster relief and aid to Ukraine.

Roy would not comment on details except to say the border issue is key and talks are ongoing.

“We need to make sure that what we propose will very specifically address the failures of this administration, one way or another, and specifically as it relates to the border,” he said.

Hurry up

However, what will happen after such a Senate-passed bill returns to the House is anyone’s guess — and at that point, lawmakers will likely face the Sept. 30 funding deadline.

House Rules Chairman Tom Cole said a CR with a border security measure could win support from Democrats as well as Republicans if it avoids controversial immigration issues.

“I don’t know anyone in Congress who doesn’t know someone who has lost someone to fentanyl. No one supports human trafficking. And it’s become a real problem for them,” Cole, R-Okla., said of Democrats.

“I just don’t think we’re going to close,” Cole added. “I think we’re going to try to do something at the border.”

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., a member of the Freedom Caucus, said he didn’t think there was enough time to avoid a shutdown, but did not rule out a last-minute deal.

“I don’t know how we can accomplish this in the time we have left,” Norman said.

The duration of a possible palliative was also the subject of debate. Republicans have discussed a three- to four-week bill, while Democrats want at least six weeks.

“My point of view is this: let’s look at a CR that takes us to the end of November, December. Give us time to negotiate the bills and move them forward,” House Appropriations Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., told reporters on a call Thursday. “The question is how long will House Republicans drag their feet and what harm will they inflict before coming to the table?

Laura Weiss contributed to this report.

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