Sun. May 26th, 2024

House GOP on the Prowl for a Government Fund Mako

Jamie Roberts By Jamie Roberts May19,2024

House Republicans are looking for a reset on government funding following the chaotic — and prolonged — spending process over the last year, adding to the pressure on Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who already faces an uphill climb to achieve many of the conference’s goals.

The push for a clean slate on 2025 spending comes shortly after the House wrapped up fiscal year 2024 appropriations, which required four funding stopgaps, brought Washington to the brink of several shutdown cliffs and led to the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

But as Republicans look to cut spending and avoid a year-end omnibus, hurdles are emerging: Deep divisions throughout the conference, an ever-narrowing majority and the pressures of an election year.

“It’s gonna be extraordinarily difficult,” newly minted House Appropriations Committee Chair Tom Cole (Okla.) told reporters on Monday when pressed on the challenges in hashing out annual funding bills for fiscal 2025, adding that “every day we’re closer to the election, the more reluctant Congress is to doing that.”

In some ways, the looming battle over government funding for fiscal 2025 mirrors the previous year’s debate: Leadership looking to move bills through regular order and hard-liners pushing for deep spending cuts, all while grappling with the challenges of an ultra-thin majority.

But this year, the election is poised to put increased pressure on the appropriations process. Some lawmakers will look to score political points in the Capitol that could translate to winning voters on the campaign trail, while others hold back on any action to see who the next White House occupant will be.

Those dynamics are fueling the expectation among lawmakers that, despite the early posturing, nothing of substance will come to fruition on spending ahead of November, a dynamic even top appropriators are acknowledging.

“Things are highly politicized. Each side is looking to make issues and score points as opposed to pass legislation,” Cole told The Hill in an interview earlier this month. “It’s just the nature of the beast.

“But there’s also, to be fair to everybody, consideration for ‘well, maybe we should wait till the American people make a big decision,’” he continued. “And there’s a lot on the line.”

Hard-line Republicans, meanwhile, are already vowing to make a full court press on the appropriations process for fiscal year 2025 after chalking up a disappointing number of wins.

Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), the chair of the House Freedom Caucus, said that effort will begin “immediately.”

“The ’24 fiscal year is obviously coming to a close tomorrow; you begin to battle immediately for the ‘25 fiscal year,” Good told reporters in March.

“Very disappointed with what played out with the last year’s budget,” Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), a member of the conservative group, said last week. “I hate it came up on suspension, nothing got cut, we basically took the Schumer-Pelosi playbook and went with it. So we’ll definitely gonna have to have a lot more severe cuts than we had this time.”

Cole — who was unanimously recommended to be the new spending chief by the House GOP Steering Committee — said he would prefer Congress finish its annual funding work by the usual shutdown deadline in late September. But he also acknowledged that, with the upcoming elections, Congress is headed for a stopgap in September to prevent a funding lapse, kicking any spending battle until after voters head to the polls.

Cole, in that case, said the appropriations process would land in the hands of the victors.

“The winners, basically, make the decision as to what are you gonna finish out by the end of the calendar year [or you’re] going to go to the next year?” he said.

Johnson, however, is looking to expedite that process to prevent chaos and delays.

Days before winning the Speaker’s gavel in October, Johnson laid out a vigorous schedule to complete the fiscal year 2025 appropriations process on time. By the end of April, his goal is to have consensus in the conference about 2025 budget levels and pass a budget resolution. By the close of July, he wants the House to wrap up consideration of fiscal year 2025 spending bills.

Amping up pressure, the Louisiana Republican said the House should not break for August recess if it has not passed all 12 appropriations bills.

But that timeline will likely be delayed as Congress stares down a lengthy to-do list between now and the fall.

At the top of that agenda is passing legislation to assist Israel and Ukraine. Foreign aid has stalled in the House for months, despite impassioned pleas from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to assist the U.S.’s embattled allies.

In an interview with The Hill earlier this month, Cole said “the most important thing” the House GOP majority can do at this point is to get its spending bills through the committee, noting that “nothing’s gonna happen till that happens.”

His goal this summer is to get all 12 annual government funding bills through the full committee “as rapidly as possible.”

“Obviously, we don’t decide when they’ll go to the floor,” he added. “That’s a leadership decision and it’s a tricky decision. It was tricky last year, it’s gonna be trickier this year, just given even now a margin that we have.”

Last month’s passage of the fiscal 2024 government funding bills capped off a bruising months-long process for House Republicans, as divides among various factions of the conference on spending and thorny policy areas like abortion dominated attention during the summer, leading up to a historic ouster of the party’s leader, and thereafter. 

And now, Johnson faces the same threat to his gavel as his predecessor, with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) threatening to force a vote on ousting the Speaker.

Greene filed a motion to vacate — the same tool used to remove McCarthy — against Johnson last month, but has not yet said when she plans to force a vote on the measure.

The move came as the House passed a sprawling $1.2 trillion package funding swaths of the government for the remainder of the fiscal year.

While many in the conference have dismissed the threat, it marks one of the latest examples of growing frustration with Johnson in the party’s right flank.

For months, conservatives have criticized GOP leadership and, at times, staged revolts on the floor over concessions made in bipartisan funding talks.

While Republicans did not achieve in the bipartisan spending packages the significantly lower funding levels they pushed for in their initial partisan spending plans, the party has boasted decreases to nondefense programs, as well as investments secured for defense programs, the border and veterans.

Cole said he doesn’t expect the party to “stray too far from” from the topline number negotiated as part of bipartisan spending limits deal last year. However, he suggested there could be some slack to be gained in future talks with Democrats, as the budget caps deal has been met with fierce opposition from conservatives demanding steep funding cuts.

“Speaker Johnson showed he’s able to get actually a few more concessions even than McCarthy got, so there may be some wiggle room,” Cole said.

Jamie Roberts

By Jamie Roberts

Jamie is an award-winning investigative journalist with a focus on uncovering corruption and advocating for social justice. With over a decade of experience in the field, Jamie's work has been instrumental in bringing about positive change in various communities.

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2 thoughts on “House GOP on the Prowl for a Government Fund Mako”
  1. Do you think the House GOP’s plan for a government fund reset will actually help in achieving their goals amidst the current challenges and divisions within the conference?

  2. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the House GOP has a tough road ahead in navigating the turbulent waters of government funding for 2025. The internal divisions within the party coupled with the looming election year pose significant challenges to achieving their objectives. Let’s see how Speaker Mike Johnson and the rest of the conference tackle these hurdles.

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