September 18, 2023

House Republicans hold conference call to avert government shutdown, pass defense spending bill

House Republicans held a members-only conference call with Freedom Caucus members on Sunday night in an attempt to avert a government shutdown, Fox News has learned.

The goal of the call, which took place at 8 p.m., was to agree on a continuing resolution to fund the government for another month. The Freedom Caucus and House Republican leadership have been disputing over what a funding package could look like.

Before the call took place, sources told Fox News Digital that there has been ‘good progress’ between Freedom Caucus members and other Republicans.

The interim spending bill, which is good for 31 days, is expected to renew current funding while incorporating more border and immigration-related spending. The House aims to vote on it on Thursday.

The continuing resolution would also fund veteran and military spending at current levels while marking a 1% cut from fiscal year 2023 discretionary spending levels. House Republicans are hoping to pass their defense spending bill this week.

The defense spending bill will also be coupled with House Resolution 2 (HR 2), which is intended to limit asylum provisions and tighten up border security.

Notably, the defense bill does not include additional disaster relief money for Ukraine, which has been requested by the White House. It also does not include an E-Verify provision requiring employers to document the employment eligibility of their workers, which has been previously discussed.

Despite the attempt to rally Republicans behind the new continuing resolution, several GOP lawmakers expressed on social media that they would be voting ‘no’ when the bill faces a vote.

‘I’m a NO,’ Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, wrote on X, formerly Twitter. ‘No money for Ukraine, COVID, or weaponized Gov.’

Rep. Cory Mills, R-Fla., echoed: ‘I’m a HARD NO!’

Mills, among others, has expressed that he wants government spending to return to pre-pandemic levels.

‘I’m sick of the DC backroom deals to appease 61 in the Senate and not going to play this game,’ the Floridian continued. ‘Our job is to fund the US and take care of the American people. I was not elected by overseas interests like others. Enough is Enough!’

Rep. Dan Bishop, R-NC, added: ‘I’m with Cory. No CR. Pass the damn approps bills. Roll back the crazy bureaucracy to pre-COVID levels. Now.’

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., also expressed he was among those who opposed the bill.

Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., argued that the current spending levels were decided by President Biden and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, therefore Republicans, who are in control of the House, should take the responsibility to set new levels. 

‘For months, I have made it very clear that I will not be supporting a CR. And this week is no different,’ he wrote on X. ‘A CR is a continuation of Nancy Pelosi’s budget and Joe Biden’s policies.’

Rosendale added: ‘We were assured in January that we weren’t going to use the Democrats’ gimmicks to fund government and that we would deliver the 12 appropriations bills, thereby funding government responsibly and transparently, which is why I will be voting against the CR this week.’

McCarthy has said he will bring the continuing resolution to the House floor for a vote, whether he has the votes to pass it or not. The tactic is often used to put members on the record. 

Republicans, who have 222 members, can only afford four holdouts and still pass a bill with 218 votes. They appear well above that number for the continuing resolution.

Main Street Caucus Chairman Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., Vice Chair Stephanie Bice, R-Okla., and Executive Board Representative Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., told Fox News that they are working with Freedom Caucus members to build support for the continuing resolution.

‘Congress must keep government open and secure the border,’ the statement reads. ‘That’s why we’ve worked with leaders of the House Freedom Caucus to introduce a 31-day continuing resolution laser-focused on fixing the crisis at our southern border.’

‘We want to thank members of both the Republican Main Street Caucus and House Freedom Caucus, as well as a broad cross-section of other members from across the Republican conference for their contributions to this effort,’ the statement continues.

After the contentious debate in the House is settled, the bill will head to the Senate.


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