Lawmakers fly back home for another long weekend without advancing a single piece of spending legislation, with just nine days until the government shutdown.
The Senate returns Tuesday and the House is unclear when it will vote again, but many members have already sent it out of town.
The House of Representatives canceled the votes and told members to be “on call” for future votes, after a series of two embarrassing failures on the rule to advance the bill to fund the Pentagon for the 2024 fiscal year.
Republican Party leadership in the House of Representatives appears to have filed a motion for a continuing resolution, or CR, and will seek to move forward on another eleven appropriations bills, with sharper cuts in the coming week.
The 12 total appropriations bills would never pass the Senate even if they pass the House of Representatives next week, which all but guarantees closure unless they can get the votes together for a CR once members see progress on the area of separate expenditure laws.
A message from Majority Whip Tom Emmer said lawmakers would be given “ample notice” if a vote were to take place this weekend — a clear signal to lawmakers that it is safe to return to their home districts
“Some members may have already left,” said Rep. Steve Womack. “It’s college football weekend, fundraiser, it’s the end of golf season.”
The idea is to have something at the negotiating table with the White House and Senate on spending for the entire year. But if Republicans can’t agree on the top numbers for each agency, they worry the Democratic-led Senate will take the lead on spending — or lump them all into one big spending package .
A message from Majority Whip Tom Emmer said lawmakers would be given “ample notice” if a vote were to take place this weekend — a clear signal to lawmakers that it is safe to return to their home districts.
Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., a senior appropriator who sat in a meeting for hours to devise a new plan with Chairman Kevin McCarthy to move forward, told reporters there would have been an “attendance problem” if they had tried to stay in Washington and vote all weekend long.
“Some members may have already left,” he said. “It’s college football weekend, fundraiser, the end of golf season.”
But other members were furious at the loss of another four days as the clock ticks towards a shutdown.
“I’m disgusted that we’re talking about going home when a shutdown is looming,” Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., wrote on X. “This is a terrible idea if we have to stay in DC and overcome our differences.” ‘
“We can’t leave town – our border is on fire and we have to get our job done,” added Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas.
“In my opinion, a message should have gone out saying we’re not done this weekend and we’re going to stay here,” Rep. Mike Garcia of California told reporters.
It all came after Republican hardliners delivered a stunning blow to Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Thursday by cutting a 2024 defense spending bill for the second time in 48 hours.
Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and four other rebels voted with Democrats to block the Pentagon funding package as the party descended further into chaos.
McCarthy and his leadership team thought they had the votes to pass the defense plan line, filled with conservative-friendly policies.
But critics voted against it in protest and demanded deeper cuts.
The move has put even more pressure on McCarthy as he faces a revolt from colleagues who want him as chairman.
A vote to begin debate on the defense spending bill was rejected by a vote of 216 to 212.
It was another setback for McCarthy, who spent more than two hours last night meeting with his fellow Republicans, seeking agreement on legislation to prevent a government shutdown starting Oct. 1.
After the failed defense spending vote, McCarthy said he would “continue to follow the same strategy I had from January – just keep working; never give up.’
The House of Representatives failed to advance the 2024 defense spending bill for the second time on Thursday, in a stunning blow to Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his team of leaders.
Greene, usually a McCarthy ally, and Crane had previously voted for the defense rule and reversed their vote Thursday
Republicans Dan Bishop (NC), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Matt Rosendale (Mont.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Eli Crane (Ariz.) opposed.
Greene, typically a McCarthy ally, and Crane had previously voted in favor of the rule to begin debate on the defense spending bill, but reversed their vote Thursday.
Typically, a member of the majority party votes to initiate a debate even if they oppose the actual legislation: prior to this current Congress, no procedural vote had failed since November 2002.
“We are very dysfunctional right now,” Rep. Tim Burchett told reporters. “They clearly can’t count,” he said of the GOP leadership.
The failed procedural vote came after a two-hour Republican meeting on Wednesday evening, which gave those opposed to the spending legislation a chance to air their grievances.
Trying to push through a spending bill to keep the federal government open could create an inordinate amount of trouble.
To do this, Congress must either pass a short-term continuing resolution known as CR and continue debating twelve separate spending bills, or one major funding bill for an entire year.
McCarthy has pitched an idea to members — one that would set total discretionary spending for a month at $1.471 trillion, as hardliners have demanded, and then set appropriations bills at $1.52 trillion after Oct. 30.
The deal would also include Republican border legislation, but would likely not have a chance of a vote in the Senate.
However, Republicans believe it would provide a starting point for negotiations with the Democratic-led Senate.
Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said, “Rather than reducing the likelihood of a shutdown, Chairman McCarthy is increasing it by wasting time on extremist proposals that cannot become law in the Senate.”
Republican negotiators have floated a number of proposals to secure hardliner votes on a CR that would push the deadline back to October 30.
But some hardliners, seemingly unafraid of the shutdown looming in 10 days, say they oppose any CR and that the House should move forward with 12 separate appropriations bills.
“We say, ‘let’s pass this CR so we don’t have to pass another CR. Well, that’s like telling a heroin addict we’re going to give you some heroin so you don’t use heroin anymore,'” Burchett explained.
The Tennessee Republican predicted that passing a short-term CR could lead to it ending up in a comprehensive spending bill, one that rolls up all spending priorities into one big bill.
“We are very dysfunctional right now,” said Rep. Tim Burchett, who voted for the rule but said he would oppose the defense appropriations bill. “They clearly can’t count,” he said of the GOP leadership
‘Oh, well, let’s do a 30-day CR, now let’s do another 30-day CR and then pass an omnibus… I just think it’s a capitulation of our duties, and all we really what we have to do is pass a budget, and we don’t do that.’
Moderate Republicans are fed up with so much attention being paid to a handful of stubborn hardliners — all for a bill that won’t pass the Senate.
“A CR that has no chance of passing the Senate is probably a bad idea,” Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, told DailyMail.com.
Asked if it’s time to start working on a deal that could bring together a majority through Democratic and Republican votes, he said, “I’d like to see more leadership in Congress, period.”
Democrats have floated the idea of forcing a vote on a CR through a discharge request.
Their CR would continue funding at the 2023 level established under Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
They would need a handful of Republicans to join in, and several have already said they would do so to avoid a shutdown.
“It’s absolutely an option,” said New York Republican Marc Molinaro.