Government Shutdown Watch: How Far Can the GOP Kick the Can?

Yuval Rosenberg

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), House Freedom Caucus Chairman, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 23, 2017. 

House Republican leaders have a rebellion within their ranks over a spending bill to avert a government shutdown on Saturday. Republicans had reportedly planned to pass a short-term funding bill Wednesday that would keep the government open for two more weeks as Republicans and Democrats negotiate 2018 spending levels. Then a second temporary spending bill, potentially including legislation covering other thorny issues like Obamacare stabilization and immigration, would extend into 2018, allowing time for budget decisions to be finalized.

But Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and other members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are pushing to fund the government until December 30 instead, due to worries that Democrats or the Senate would have too much leverage over a spending deal so close to Christmas. On Monday night, in what Politico called a “dramatic political stunt,” members of the Freedom Caucus withheld their support for a procedural vote on the tax bill until they received assurances that GOP leaders would consider their suggested timeframe.

The plan for a two-week spending measure appears likely to still win out, as the Senate is reportedly resisting a shift to December 30. “I’m not sure what that gets us, other than messing up the week between Christmas and New Year’s,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said, according to Bloomberg. But the House GOP leaders delayed their original schedule by a day to whip up support. A final decision on the stopgap spending bill may come Wednesday morning, Politico reports, with a vote likely happening on Thursday.

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