House GOP strikes internal deal as shutdown approaches

Two critical factions of the House Republican Conference reached agreement on a bill to avoid a government shutdown for another month, cutting discretionary spending for the duration, along with the bulk of a House GOP bill to change policies at the border.

The hope is to bring the continuing resolution (CR) deal, crafted by leaders in the Main Street Caucus and House Freedom Caucus, to the House floor this week. But even if it passes the House, it faces slim odds of passing in the Democratic-controlled Senate and being signed into law by the White House.

The deal would avoid a looming Oct. 1 shutdown by funding the government through Oct. 31, keeping Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs at current levels while cutting all discretionary spending by 8 percent. Along with that, it would include the House GOP’s H.R. 2 border crackdown bill — minus its provisions about requiring E-Verify.

It does not include disaster relief funds or funding for Ukraine from the White House’s supplemental funding request in August, which it had proposed attaching to a continuing resolution.

In addition, the agreement is also to pass an appropriations bill to fund the Department of Defense (DOD) for fiscal 2024 in tandem with the CR bill, according to a GOP source. House GOP leadership was forced to punt plans to put the DOD bill on the House floor last week due to hard-line conservatives planning to sink the procedural vote to allow for its consideration, in protest of wanting steeper cuts across all other appropriations bills.

The CR bill is led by Reps. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.); Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), chair of the Main Street Caucus, a pragmatic conservative group; Scott Perry (R-Pa.), chair of the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus; Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.), vice chair of the Main Street Caucus; Chip Roy (R-Texas); and Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.).

Congressional leaders of both parties and chambers are aiming to pass a continuing resolution to buy more time to complete the appropriations process through regular order, which includes passing all 12 appropriations bills and getting them signed into law. Both chambers, however, are far behind: The House has only cleared one measure, and the Senate has passed none.

But the clock is ticking: Included in the debt limit deal signed into law in June was a provision that said if all 12 appropriations bills are not passed by Jan. 1, 2025, a 1 percent cut would be made across the board.

Upping the pressure, however, is the fact that the two chambers marked up their bills at different levels, setting the scene of a House vs. Senate clash that could once again bring Congress to the brink of a shutdown.

The Senate is marking up its bills in line with the caps set in the debt limit deal, plus roughly $14 billion in additional emergency funding, while the House is moving ahead at levels far lower than the debt limit agreement.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) indicated on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures” earlier Sunday that he would bring the Defense funding bill to the floor, and he projected optimism about getting an agreement this week.

“I gave them an opportunity this weekend to try to work through this, and we’ll bring it to the floor, win or lose, and show the American public who’s for the Department of Defense, who’s for our military, who’s for giving them a pay raise and who’s for making sure we can take the wokeism out,” McCarthy said.

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