Conservatives rebel again over spending in the House

A bloc of far-right House Republicans torpedoed a major spending bill pushed by their leaders on Wednesday, protesting Speaker Mike Johnson’s move a day earlier to lean on Democrats to push through legislation that averts a government shutdown.

The House rebellion, which forced the chamber to adjourn abruptly for the Thanksgiving holiday without completing its work, underscored the difficulties ahead in reaching a government-wide spending deal early next year. It came even as Congress stood ready to avert an imminent crisis.

As early as Wednesday evening, the Senate could file a temporary spending bill that would extend funding for some federal agencies until Jan. 19 and others until Feb. 2, sending the bill to President Biden’s desk.

But in the House, right-wing anger over the measure, which passed the House Tuesday night with near-unanimous Democratic support and significant GOP opposition, was raw. Members of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus showed their anger by joining with Democrats to block consideration of separate funding legislation for the Commerce and Justice Departments and science agencies.

It was the latest setback on the spending bills under Mr Johnson, the president elected three weeks ago. Like his predecessor, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, he was able to get passage of a temporary spending bill that removed the threat of a shutdown. Now, however, he is being punished for it by the far right, which wants to cut federal spending and condition it on conservative policies.

“The swamp won, and the speaker needs to know that,” said Texas Representative Chip Roy, one of the Republicans who voted against the temporary spending bill on Tuesday and blocked a separate funding measure on Wednesday.

Mr. Roy and 18 other Republicans managed to derail consideration of the Commerce, Justice and Science bill by breaking with their party to oppose a normally routine procedural measure to set the rules for debate. The tactic was once considered unthinkable, but the hard right has resorted to it several times this year to defy its leaders.

In preventing closure, Mr. Johnson essentially followed the same bipartisan path that Mr. cost McCarthy the speakership last month. Mr. Roy and his allies said they had no intention of challenging Mr. Johnson under the hammer, but they reserved the right to continue raising procedural hurdles if he did not comply with their demands.

“We’ve had enough,” said Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Freedom Caucus. “We’re sending a shot across the bow. We do this in good faith. We want to see these accounts move. We want to see good, fair politics, but we will no longer be part of the theater of failure.”

A bloc of politically vulnerable New York Republicans also voted against the rule, saying the underlying bill contained cuts to law enforcement that they could not support.

The stopgap bill would give Congress just a few months to resolve its spending differences, with two deadlines set for early 2024. Meanwhile, the House and Senate hope to pass 12 individual spending bills and then resolve their massive disputes over them .

The floor rebellion in the House reflected how far away that prospect was. If Mr. Johnson accepts the deep cuts and policy changes demanded by far-right Republicans, he could lose the support of more mainstream members of his conference and be unable to accept them. Even if he were able to push such measures through the House, they would almost certainly die in the Democratic-led Senate.

Categories USA

Leave a Comment