GOP conference hashes out 'No Budget, No Pay''

A typical conference meeting usually lasts an hour but there were so many members lining up to voice their opinion that the private session was extended by 90 minutes.

The bill is expected to attract support from Democrats and pass the lower chamber. White House and Senate Democratic leaders have expressed support for it.

Asked if Republicans could pass the bill on GOP votes alone, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) shook his head in uncertainty. He said that the conference supported the bill in general, “but do you have 218, I don't know."

A handful of lawmakers who tend to speak during open mic time in opposition of whatever bill the House is set to vote on surprised their colleagues by indicating that they would support the temporary debt-limit extension. Even though they didn’t need to take up time at the mics, these lawmakers opted to express their support for the measure that would require each chamber to pass a budget by April 15th or forgo their pay.

Still, a number of freshmen lawmakers spoke up at the mics, unsure about supporting the bill, citing campaign promises they made not to raise the debt ceiling, a source in the room told The Hill.

“We have freshmen who ran on not raising the debt ceiling asking 'well, what am I going to do, go back to my district and...?,' ” one more senior lawmaker vented in frustration.

The lawmaker offered the following advice to the newly elected members: “you are going to talk to your constituents and you're going to explain to them what we are doing - this is three months, this is a strategic vote, this is not a long-term policy budget vote that changes the whole entire dynamic.”

The lawmaker added, “this is a win that's being presented to them and they can't even take it.”

A sophomore lawmaker predicted that leaders would pass the bill, no thanks to members in the GOP.

Several members attending the extended meeting told The Hill that House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) delivered one of his best presentations ever at the late-afternoon conference.

McCarthy, the No.-3-ranking Republican, said that voting for the bill gives House Republicans “a chance to reframe the debate and let the American people know that if they have to balance their budget in their household, then at least there's one group up here that thinks we should do it in the federal government,” Cassidy told The Hill.

Cassidy said that McCarthy emphasized the importance of grabbing the media’s attention in a way that will advance the story of the Senate’s four-year lack of action.

“This forces the media to begin discussing that the Senate has not obeyed the law for four years and requires [the Senate] to establish what they think their priorities are,” Cassidy noted.