By Lawrence Wilson
House Republicans vented frustration with one another on Friday after 21 members joined Democrats in defeating a continuing resolution to extend government funding through Oct. 31.
The vote came as the latest in a string of failed votes over the past two weeks, revealing just how wide the gap is between factions within the Republican caucus.
Many who favored the resolution voiced the opinion that their colleagues had squandered the opportunity to secure immediate, if short-term, spending cuts while adding critically needed provisions to enhance border security.
The holdouts voiced equal frustration with House leaders for, in their view, needlessly waiting until the 11th hour to approve 2024 spending levels and resorting to a continuing funding measure that would inevitably lead to further delays and more out-of-control spending.
Where one side wants more time to complete the appropriations process while avoiding a potential government shutdown, the other insists on marching forward to complete the 12 regular appropriations bills, even if that results in a brief suspension of nonessential government services.
More Time Needed
Spending authority for the federal government expires at midnight Saturday. In the absence of some spending agreement, many nonessential government employees will be furloughed. Others, such as members of the military, will have to work without pay until the matter is resolved.
Most Republicans want to avoid that and supporting the CR, which would have extended funding through Oct. 31 with an overall 8 percent cut to non-defense discretionary spending. The CR also included a bundle of border security enhancements.
The idea, according to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was to allow more time to pass the 12 required spending bills, cut some spending right away, and reverse what he called President Joe Biden’s failed border policy.
Most of the Republican caucus saw that as a win and voted for the bill. Some had harsh criticism for their colleagues who voted ‘no.’
“They made a bad vote,” Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) told NTD, sister media to The Epoch Times. When asked how the failed vote affected public perception of the party, Mr. Donalds said, “I think I would ask the members that decided to vote ‘no’ on cutting 30 percent of the federal agencies and securing our border.”
“They have to explain to their voters why they voted against border security and voted with Democrats,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said.
“They killed the most conservative position we could take and then called themselves the real conservatives,” Mr. Crenshaw said, adding that he believed a more liberal spending bill would now come to the House, without border security provisions.
The Senate is expected to pass a CR tomorrow that extends funding at its current levels through Nov. 17 and includes an additional $6.15 billion in funding for the war effort in Ukraine and $5.99 billion for domestic disaster relief.
No CR, Ever
Most who opposed the CR are pushing for a larger reform in the way the spending bills are passed. They want to see the 12 appropriations bills presented one at a time, with an opportunity to debate and amend them on the House floor. That process is often referred to as “regular order.”
That process has not been completed by the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, since 1997. Instead, Congress generally authorizes a CR, which usually continues spending at the current level. Then, as the calendar year is coming to a close, a so-called omnibus spending bill is presented, which lumps some or all of the spending provisions into a single up-or-down vote.
Many in Congress want that practice to stop. The holdouts on today’s vote are willing to risk a government shutdown to make it so. To them, the most responsible path is to keep working on the 12 appropriations bills until they’re finished.
“The House of Representatives can pass single-subject spending bills. We will not pass a continuing resolution on terms that continue America’s decline,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).
The House passed one appropriations bill in July and three more on Sept. 28.
“I’m calling on the Senate to immediately proceed on to our Veterans bill, our Defense bill, our Homeland Security bill, our State Dept. and Foreign Operations bill,” Mr. Gaetz said.
“We’re not being fiscally responsible by passing these stop-gap budgets,” said Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) “We should have been here the whole month of August working on this … Success, to me, would be that we get together and pass a budget. We’re here. Let’s go to work.”
“We’ve got the obligation to the American people, and a statutory obligation, to pass the 12 appropriation bills. We’ve started making incredible progress on that, and I think that that’s where all the attention and energy should be focused,” said. Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.).
While not unsympathetic to that aim, many House Republicans nevertheless believe a government shutdown is counterproductive.
“There’s not a single person in the House Republican Conference who doesn’t support … going through single-subject appropriations bills. But when you’re trying to change a system that has been in place for decades, it takes time. It takes work,” said Rep. Matt Lawler (R-N.Y.)
“The speaker put a bill on the floor, 21 people chose to vote it down,” Mr. Lawler added. “But there are more than enough people who are going to move forward to pass the CR when given the opportunity over the next day or two. It’s going to happen.”
House Republicans met for a strategy session later in the day on Sept. 29. No plan was finalized, but some attendees reported progress.
During the meeting, Mr. Crenshaw told reporters that various options were being discussed.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) told reporters that another attempt at a CR was one possibility. “That could be a CR that’s a little shorter, or a little longer, or has something else in it.”
For Mr. Donalds, the priority now is getting back to work on the regular appropriations bills. He said, “I think tomorrow, whether we’re voting on the floor or not, we need to be worrying about the Energy of Water bill, the Transportation, and HUD bill, and every other bill that we need to pass.”
Joseph Lord, Ryusuke Abe, and NTD’s Melina Wisecup contributed to this report.