Rank and file split on funding bill

Greg Nash

Both House Democrats and Republicans are split over whether to support a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would keep the government open.

Republicans emerged from a conference meeting Wednesday where the bill was presented predicting significant defections on their side of the aisle.

{mosads}Separately, House Democrats left their own meeting split over whether to support a bill crafted by House Republican appropriators, who negotiated with their Senate Democratic counterparts.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) predicted a majority in both parties would ultimately support the measure.

“I think there’ll be a majority on both sides,” Rogers said.

The government will shut down on Friday without a new funding measure. The House is also considering passage of a funding measure that would last two or three days to provide more time for the Senate to consider the larger package.

That bill, released late Tuesday, has been dubbed a “cromnibus” because it includes an omnibus spending bill funding most of the government through September and a continuing resolution, or CR, that would fund the Homeland Security Department through Feb. 27.

Republicans expect 50 to 60 of their own members will vote against the bill, largely because they think it doesn’t go far enough to block President Obama’s executive action to give legal status and work permits for up to 5 million immigrants in the country illegally.

Conservatives are lobbying the House Rules Committee to allow a vote on an amendment that would prohibit funding for implementation of the immigration actions.

But Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), one of the most outspoken foes of the cromnibus, conceded leadership won’t allow the amendment to go anywhere.

“To provide funding for something that I believe is unconstitutional is a violation of my oath,” Salmon told reporters. “I don’t feel comfortable with the way this has all played out. In fact, in a couple of weeks we’ll all raise our hand and swear to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. And I believe this is an abdication to that commitment.”

Conservatives also note that waiting until February to respond to the executive action gives them less leverage. Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) noted that agencies are already working to implement the order.

“To wait until February and then follow up makes no sense. And also the other side is emboldened by the fact that we’re not willing to fight now after a tremendous election that said the American people oppose this and they want us to oppose it,” Fleming said.

At a news conference after the closed-door meeting, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) argued that passing what he said was a “responsible” funding bill now would push the immigration fight to 2015, when Republicans will be in a much stronger position.

“Without a threat of a government shutdown,” Boehner said, “it sets up a direct challenge against the president’s unilateral actions on immigration when we have new majorities in both chambers of Congress.”

Boehner faced tough questions about the cromnibus from a trio of TV reporters, who suggested it was exactly the type of “Christmas tree” legislation that Republicans had campaigned against.

One legislative rider would loosen campaign finance laws to allow wealthy individuals to donate up to $324,000 a year to party committees. Another would block D.C.’s voter-passed initiative legalizing marijuana.

“All these provisions in this bill were worked out in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion or they wouldn’t be in the bill,” Boehner replied.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she trusts the Democratic appropriators who helped craft the $1.1 trillion package, and she’s “hopeful” Democrats can support the measure. 

But top Democratic opponents — including Reps. James Clyburn (S.C.), Xavier Becerra (Calif.) and Chris Van Hollen (Md.) — are joining restive rank-and-file liberals in vowing to oppose the $1.1 trillion package, largely over eleventh-hour conservative amendments to loosen campaign finance regulations and undo parts of Democrats’ 2010 Wall Street reform law.

“If everything that I hear that’s in it is in it, no, I would not support that,” Becerra, head of the House Democratic Caucus, said Wednesday morning after a closed-door meeting in the Capitol. 

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said a lot of things were added to the “cromnibus” that are “highly objectionable” to Democrats including swaps language on Dodd-Frank and changes to limits on campaign contributions.

“We’re still working on trying to get it to a place where we can support it,” Hoyer said.

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), however, voiced support and said none of the riders included in the package would cost his vote.

“I think I’m going to vote for it. I have deep reservations about it, especially the reservations about Homeland Security, but if it’s closing down the government, I don’t think I have that much discretion,” he said.

Rebecca Shabad and Mike Lillis contributed.

Tags Appropriations Budget government-funding Hal Rogers Immigration John Boehner Nancy Pelosi Shutdown Steny Hoyer

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