House Republican negotiators are warning rebels within their own party that they are ’empowering’ Democrats as lawmakers scramble for a deal to fund the government in time to avoid a partial shutdown.
Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., one of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s top allies, spoke to reporters after House Republicans’ members-only call on Saturday and said lawmakers were getting closer to an agreement on spending. However he suggested there was still frustration with hardline-right members of the conference who have been holding up an agreement on a stopgap funding bill to give them more time to cobble together 12 individual spending bills for the relevant government agencies.
‘All that strategy did was further empower a more liberal solution to a shutdown and it was the wrong move,’ Graves said. ‘It was the wrong strategy. And so now we’re stuck with trying to pick up the pieces and salvage the best solution that we can.’
‘I think the Appropriations Committee did a great job getting these bills out of committee, developing consensus in the conference. And I think we should have made them earlier, and I’m really disappointed that people were blocking the progress many months ago. And now, we’re now looking at a more liberal solution whenever we could have had [a more conservative one].’
With just one spending bill out of 12 having passed the House, leaders have acknowledged that a stopgap solution is needed to extend past the Sept. 30 deadline.
But multiple GOP proposals seeking to cut government spending and enhance border security in a stopgap bill, technically known as a continuing resolution (CR), have failed to get enough support in the Republican conference.
Several holdouts have refused to support a CR on principle, no matter what riders are attached, arguing that it would just be an extension of the previous Democrat-controlled Congress’ policies.
It’s prompted some moderate Republicans, like freshman Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., to warn they would work with Democrats to find a solution to avoid a government shutdown if the GOP fails to come to an agreement.
Graves would not go into detail about how negotiators are swaying the holdouts, but he did preview their pressure strategy when answering reporters’ questions.
‘Every single day that passes, you further empower [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer, further empower Nancy Pelosi, and [President] Joe Biden to determine how a shutdown is resolved or determined how the budget is funded,’ he said.
‘Keep in mind right now, we’re operating under an appropriations process, or a budget, that was developed by Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. They were all in charge last year. That’s the budget we’re operating under. So the delays that have been forced upon the Republicans right now are just allowing that budget to continue day after day, and preventing us from being able to chart a new course to change direction to address the crises.’
He added later, ‘For people to be out there claiming themselves as conservatives, but then empowering Chuck Schumer and the White House, it’s either intellectually dishonest, or it’s absolutely disingenuous.’
It’s not yet clear how well that tactic will work, with House lawmakers not expected back on Capitol Hill until Tuesday — less than a week until the funding deadline.
Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., one of the holdouts, walked past Graves and other lawmakers holding the press conference on Saturday, and indicated to reporters that he was still firmly against any kind of CR.