The House will vote Saturday on a 45-day “clean” stopgap funding bill that includes money for disaster relief, a major turn in strategy for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) ahead of a midnight shutdown deadline.
The clean continuing resolution (CR) would require support from two-thirds of the House for passage because it is being considered under a fast-tracked mechanism called suspension of the rules. That means it would rely heavily on Democratic support to pass.
It will not have border policy changes, a non-starter for Democrats, or funds for Ukraine that some Republicans opposed.
McCarthy announced the plan following a nearly two-hour closed-door conference meeting.
“We will put a clean funding stopgap on the floor to keep government open for 45 days for the House and Senate to get their work done,” McCarthy told reporters after the meeting. “We will also, knowing what had transpired through the summer, the disasters in Florida, the horrendous fire in Hawaii, and also the disasters in California and Vermont. We will put the supplemental portion that the president asked for in disaster there too.”
“Keeping the government open while we continue to do our work to end the wasteful spending and the wokeism and most important, secure our border,” he added.
If the bill does not pass, Republicans plan to bring up several measures to mitigate the effects of a government shutdown, multiple members said.
Those include bills to continue paying service members and extending authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration and National Flood Insurance Program, both of which are also set to expire at midnight unless Congress takes action. Republicans are also examining measures to continue pay for border patrol agents.
The decision by McCarthy opens his Speakership up to threats from hardline conservatives like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) who have warned McCarthy to not put a clean CR on the floor.
“If someone wants to remove because I want to be the adult in the room, go ahead and try,” McCarthy said.
“But I think this country is too important. And I will stand with our military. I’ll stand with our border agents. I’ll stand with those that have to get their medicine from government as well. I think that’s too important,” McCarthy said.
“And you know what, if I have to risk my job for standing up for the American public, I will do that,” McCarthy said.
It is not clear how many Democrats will support the measure. The proposed plan doesn’t have the spending cuts or policy provisions that had been poison pills for Democrats, but the Senate on Saturday is set to advance a competing continuing resolution that includes additional funding for Ukraine — a key Democratic demand.
Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee (Mich.) said he would support the new proposal and said “I suspect” that a good number of his colleagues would do the same.
“2023 levels, that’s what we’ve been asking for for a long time,” he added.
Some Republicans said they think House Democrats will tank the measure.
“I think the White House actually wants to shut down so they can blame it on Republicans,” said Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.).
The idea of a GOP-only stopgap funding measure, meanwhile, appears dead, several lawmakers told The Hill.
Twenty-one conservative Republicans voted against such a bill on Friday, in a blow to GOP leaders who hoped it would set the House up to negotiate border policy changes.
GOP leaders told members in a Saturday morning conference meeting that they’ve gotten the number of Republican holdouts down to six — but not low enough to pass a GOP-only bill in the narrow Republican majority.
“We’ve been working to get the most conservative CR passed. We should’ve passed the CR that secured the border yesterday,” Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) said Saturday. “We had 21 members who refused to vote for a conservative CR, they put us in a position to, unfortunately, pass something that is a little less conservative.”
“Now the good news is this is still a pathway to get the kind of conservative wins we need through the appropriations process,” he added.
Updated at 11:45 a.m.