Tea Party opponents complicate GOP vote on new stopgap funding bill


Conservatives in the House and Senate announced their opposition Monday to the latest GOP short-term spending measure, complicating an expected House vote on Tuesday. 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a Tea Party favorite, and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the 176-member-strong House Republican Study Committee (RSC), both said they would oppose the Republican bill to keep the government operating for three weeks.

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Rubio and Jordan had both voted in favor of an earlier stopgap spending measure, and their opposition will give cover for more Republicans to buck their leaders on the new legislation, which is intended to buy time for further negotiations on a measure to fund the government longer. 

The bill would keep the government operating for another three weeks while reducing spending this year by $6 billion. The government would shut down on March 19 without a new funding bill. 

Jordan and Rubio both complained that the latest measure does not cut deeply enough into federal spending. 

“While attempts at new spending reductions are commendable, we simply can no longer afford to nickel-and-dime our way out of the dangerous debt America has amassed,” Rubio wrote on the conservative RedState blog. 

Jordan also complained that the measure did not include language important to social conservatives that would defund Planned Parenthood and the new healthcare law. 

“We need to stop sending taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, and we need to defund ObamaCare,” he said in a statement. 

Those provisions were included in a measure approved by the House to cut spending for the full fiscal year, but were left out of the short-term measure to ease that bill’s approval by the Senate. That has upset social conservatives, who are worried the riders could be dropped for good during negotiations with the White House and Senate Democrats. 

While only six House Republicans voted against the stopgap funding measure approved earlier this month, GOP leaders face many more defections on their new measure, which is slated for a vote on Tuesday.

GOP Reps. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Justin Amash (Mich.), Jeff Duncan (S.C.), John Fleming (La.), Tim Huelskamp (Kan.) and Allen West (Fla.) have all said they will vote against the new measure. Only Amash voted against the earlier stopgap bill. 

Democrats looking for an advantage in the spending fight seized on the promised Rubio and Jordan “no” votes. 

Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y), who heads the Senate Democratic messaging operation, said the defections showed the “far right” wing of the GOP was blocking compromise on a budget deal.

“This is a bad omen that shows how difficult it will be for Speaker Boehner to bring the Tea Party along for any long-term compromise,” he said in a statement. “In order to avert a shutdown, Speaker Boehner should consider leaving the Tea Party behind and instead seek a consensus in the House among moderate Republicans and a group of Democrats.”

Over the weekend, House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) said leadership would have the votes to win approval of the funding measure. 

“Right now we are trying to position ourselves so that we can ensure no government shutdown but to continue cutting spending and to reach a result that I think we can get a majority of members to go along with,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said on Monday. 

Many Democrats are expected to support the spending bill in the House, giving GOP leaders some wiggle room to get the bill through the chamber. And while Jordan is voting against the spending measure, RSC spokesman Brian Staessle indicated the group would not whip against the legislation. 

“As we’ve done in the past when there are good arguments to be made for both sides, I expect that we’ll simply lay those arguments out for members to consider and come to their own decision,” he said. 

Conservative Republicans are feeling the pressure from their leaders to demand bigger cuts.

On Friday, three conservative groups — the Family Research Council, Club for Growth and Heritage Action — announced they were against the new stopgap. They were joined Monday by the Susan B. Anthony List, the American Family Association, the Tea Party Nation and the National Taxpayers Union. 

Other conservatives support the stopgap. Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist argued that the GOP is moving at a pace at which it could meet its goal of reducing spending this year by $61 billion through a series of short-term measures. 

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) on Monday warned fellow Republicans against opposing the continuing resolution.

“If we’re going to do what we set out to do, we have to set realistic expectations, and cannot bow to the extreme right or left,” Grimm said.

Molly K. Hooper, Vicki Needham, Michael O’Brien and Daniel Strauss contributed to this story.

This story was first posted at 1:18 p.m. and most recently updated at 8:17 p.m.

Editor's note: Six Republicans voted against the short-term spending measure approved by the House in March. An earlier version of this story included incorrect information.