The House of Representatives is likely to make a second attempt late tonight to pass the GOP-crafted continuing resolution to fund the federal government without significantly changing the legislation despite the measure falling well short of a simple majority Wednesday night.
In a bid to win support from some of the 48 House Republicans who voted with most Democrats against the CR, senior GOP aides say Republican leaders are considering adding up to $100 million in an additional offset to the legislative language of the recently rejected CR. The new offset would cut the remaining funds from the same government loan program that granted a $535 million loan guarantee to the now-bankrupt Solyndra solar company.
A controversial $1.5 billion offset to cut the clean car fund, which Democrats have strongly opposed, would still remain in the bill, putting the House’s legislation at odds with Senate Democrats. GOP aides said the Department of Energy loan program cuts would help offset disaster relief funding already included in the continue resolution. The House is expected to vote on the tweaked CR late Thursday night.
Early this evening, House Speaker John Boehner held a private meeting in his ceremonial office just off the House floor with his leadership team, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Whip Kevin McCarthy, Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling, Deputy Chief Whip Peter Roskam, and Rep. Harold Rogers, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. As the meeting broke up, the participates were tight-lipped about the discussion that had transpired.
Boehner ignored a series of questions from reporters as he walked back to his primary office suite across the Capitol, although earlier Thursday he told reporters that the threat of a government shutdown was overhyped.
“There’s no threat of government shutdown,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “I’ve always been confident we will be able to come to an agreement and we will.”
Later Thursday afternoon, following a meeting with the full House Republican Conference, rank and file Republicans were unsure how the process would play out, but revealed their intent to finish the House’s work on the CR tonight.
“My ambition is to [vote] today,” Rogers, R-Kentucky, said. “We don’t have time to wait around because we have to send it to the Senate and then they’ve got to act on it, and obviously the break is coming up for the religious holidays Saturday.”
Asked what kinds of changes are being considered, Rogers would only say “it’s under discussion” but added it’s his priority to ensure that disaster relief does not run out.
“The main thing is we want to be sure that we don’t let the disaster fund run dry. At the rate FEMA is spending the disaster monies now, that day could come real soon,” Rogers said. “It’s important, very important that we get this done so that we can keep that disaster fund in operation, and also obviously to prevent a government shutdown 10 days from now. I’m optimistic, I think we’ll pass the bill and keep disaster funds flowing as well as preventing the shutdown of the government.”
Rep. Tim Scott, one of two GOP freshmen with a seat at the party’s leadership table, told reporters Republicans are closer to having a sufficient number of votes to pass the bill without Democratic support.
“I think we’re closer than people would expect that we are,” Scott, R-South Carolina, said. “We’ll see how it works out.”
Rep. Bobby Schilling, who voted to support the CR yesterday, said the GOP leadership is working to pick up additional Republican votes rather than aim to appease Democrats in order to pick up their votes.
“[Democrats] are going to do what they’re told to do. I mean there were 20 or 30 that were yes on [yesterday's vote], and then they were told to vote no, so a lot of them have their hands tied. They can’t vote the way they want,” Schilling, R-Ill., said. “The big thing is looking at the alternative of what’s going to happen…You might have one bill that you consider bad, but it keeps you from voting on an even worse bill so I think that’s what we’re looking at.”