Fielding questions about trouble within Republican ranks over the possibility of another short-term spending bill, House Republican leaders punted the blame to Senate Democrats and refused to promise that the latest proposal to fund the government for just three weeks would be the last.
House Republicans introduced a bill last week that would cut about $6 billion over the next three weeks, but some in the GOP caucus, including Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan of the conservative Republican Study Committee and at least two Republican senators, have vowed to oppose the bill, citing frustration with the lack of long-term action and scope of the cuts.
“The frustration you feel from every Republican here is the frustration that, are Democrats serious about doing something, the Senate can’t get something off the floor and where’s the leadership of the president?” said House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy during a briefing with reporters Monday. “He can’t even tell us what he would agree to.”
Unable to reach an agreement on funding levels through the fiscal year, the House and Senate must buy more time for negotiations with another short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government. (Congress has not passed a budget since 2009, instead choosing to fund the government through these stopgap measures.)
House Republicans say they’ve already done their part: The GOP passed a bill in February to fund the government through the fiscal year with $61 billion in cuts, and the Senate has yet to send a version of the bill back with its changes. Vice President Joseph Biden facilitated a conversation between the parties earlier this month on Capitol Hill, but according to House Republican leaders, there has not been any further communication with the White House since then.
When asked if he had heard anything from Senate Democrats, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor responded, “Have you? Maybe you have, but I will tell you. No.”
Perhaps an even more troubling possibility for those fighting more short-term CRs to fund the government is that this one might not be the last: Cantor, who was given many opportunities to say he would not bring another short-term CR to the floor, said he “hopes” this is the final one, but left the door open for another when the next measure expires in three weeks.
Cantor said that given the choice between another short-term CR and a government shutdown — which would occur if no agreement is found — he’ll choose a CR.
“Right now we are forced, because of the inaction of the Senate, in order to avoid the shutdown to stay at the current spending reduction rates,” he said.