- Republicans released their plan to fund the government through February 16 on Tuesday night.
- The bill does not include a solution to the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, meaning Republicans will likely have to pass the bill by themselves.
- This leave GOP leaders with a number of issues with defense hawks and conservatives in the House possibly opposing the bill and the need for 10 Democratic votes in the Senate.
On Tuesday night, House Republicans released their plan to fund the government over the short term and avoid a government shutdown at the end of the week.
The bill would extend the deadline for a shutdown to February 16 from the current January 19 cutoff. While the bill has a number of provisions to win over conservatives in the House – including delays to some Obamacare taxes – it still faces challenges as it tries to make its way through Congress over the next three days.
An all-GOP strategy
Conspicuously absent from the funding bill is anything to do with immigration, specifically the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Codification of the program, which protects from deportation roughly 700,000 undocumented immigrants who entered the US as minors, was a requirement of Democrats in order to get their support for a funding bill.
Given that the bill does not include anything addressing DACA, it appears that Republican leaders in the House are planning to go forward with a GOP-only strategy. While Republicans in the House have a majority and can theoretically pass the bill without the Democrats, the strategy carries some risks.
For one thing, the use of a short-term bill – known as a continuing resolution – is not going to go over well with two groups within the GOP conference.
Defense hawks, staunchly military-focused members, have balked at the use of another continuing resolution. The short-term bills have been used since September to delay the shutdown deadline, and defense hawks say that they weaken military effectiveness by leaving funding in limbo and simply maintaining last year’s spending levels instead of increasing money to meet the military’s needs.
GOP Rep. Bradley Byrne summed up those concerns while talking to reporters on Tuesday.
“Continuing resolutions are hurting the readiness of our troops, endangering our troops, and for those of us defense hawks, we find it very difficult to support CRs,” Byrne said. “The alternative is to let the Democrats crash the whole government, and that’s what they are trying to do.
Another concern is the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus, who were turned off by the continuous use of these resolutions and want to decrease spending. Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows told reporters on Tuesday that many of the group’s members were not fans of strategy and that the Obamacare tax delays – designed to win over conservatives – were simply “gimmicks.”
A source close to the Freedom Caucus told Busines Insider that while the Caucus was not taking a concrete position yet, there was signifcant pushback among members.
“[The Caucus has] no official position, but they generally did not support leadership’s current strategy,” the source said. “There’s general support for doing what leadership said we were going to do six weeks ago, to fully fund our military for a year and CR non-defense discretionary for a month while we continue negotiations.”
Meadows said Tuesday that given the resistance to the bill, there may not be enough GOP lawmakers on board with the plan yet.
“Based on the number of ‘no’ and undecided votes, there is not enough votes for a Republican-only bill,” Meadows said, according to Politico.
The Senate presents another problem
Even if the Republican House leadership can bring their conference together and get the bill passed, there’s still the problem of the Senate.
Support from at least 10 Senate Democrats is needed in order to guarantee passage of the bill – any less and another member can filibuster the measure for its lack of DACA solution.
The item that could win over some members, according to Isaac Boltansky at policy research firm Compass Point, is a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
“We continue to believe that a sufficient number of Senate Democrats will cross the aisle to pass this deal, especially given the CHIP funding,” Boltansky wrote in a note to clients after the bill was released.
Also some Democratic members, especially in states where President Donald Trump won in 2016, have expressed hesitation to shut the government down on Friday over the DACA issue. This opens the door for their support.