House Republicans Scramble to Pass Spending Measures

As the potential shutdown of the government looms on Sept. 30, the House Republicans are hastening their efforts to gather enough votes within their faction to approve two yearly funding bills before the August break, Politico reports. 

These bills are seemingly easier to pass than others. The success of these House bills rests heavily on the shoulder of Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, as the caucus appears to be severely fragmented.

While the action unfolds in the House, Senators across the Capitol keenly observe and anticipate the course the House will choose.

“I truly hope we can sidestep a government shutdown and whatever extreme measures they might resort to,” Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said, referring to the House Republicans. “If they wish to shut down, we will. If they want to pass the bills, we will oblige,” he added in his conversation with Politico.

A hurdle in the funding conversation for McCarthy is a collection of House Freedom Caucus members lobbying for more drastic reductions in the spending bills compared to the ones agreed upon by McCarthy last month in negotiations with President Joe Biden.

However, to secure sufficient votes to pass either or both funding bills, McCarthy does not need to appease these conservatives, according to Politico entirely. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, informed the outlet that if any proposed spending bill roughly aligns with the Freedom Caucus’ budget preferences, trimming the remaining bills can be negotiated later.

There’s likely opposition from Republicans in swing districts who find it hard to support the lowered budget levels demanded by Roy and 20 other House Republicans as a precondition for supporting any spending bill. 

Their public support for reduced spending might imply backing cuts to federal aid for farmers and veterans – a stance their Democratic adversaries could exploit in election campaigns.

Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., highlighted the challenge for some Republicans, saying, “The far-right extremist agenda will put them in a difficult position.”

Even the two less controversial funding bills scheduled for voting this week are proving challenging for some House Republicans to endorse.

Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-N.Y., expressed his objection to the fiscal 2024 funding bill for the FDA and Department of Agriculture, citing the restriction on mail-order medication abortion access and cuts to federal nutrition programs as his concerns.

According to Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., when Congress reconvenes in September, the rush to secure government funding before the Oct. 1 deadline could result in “chaos.”

“The worst-case scenario points towards a government shutdown,” DeLauro told Politico. “And some are perfectly fine with that.”