House GOP leaders confident budget deal has support

House GOP leaders confident budget deal has support
© Greg Nash

House GOP leaders sound confident they will be able to clinch the votes needed to pass a massive budget package and avoid a government shutdown, despite pushback from both the left and right over the bipartisan deal. 

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel I'm not a Nazi, I'm just a dude: What it's like to be the other Steve King Trump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' MORE (R-Calif.) said Wednesday night he was feeling “good” about the prospect of a House vote on an agreement to bust spending caps and raise the debt ceiling.

The measure is expected to easily pass the Senate on Thursday and be sent over to the House, where it could be a tougher lift. Passing the measure would prevent a government shutdown set for midnight on Thursday.

The House Freedom Caucus, a band of roughly 30 conservative hard-liners, took an official position against the package on Wednesday evening, after revolting against the measure earlier in the day.

ADVERTISEMENT

That means Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his leadership team will need to rely on dozens of Democratic votes to help get the caps-and-funding deal through the lower chamber to avert a government shutdown.

GOP leaders are expecting to get some Democratic support for the proposal, pointing out that the budget deal was crafted by leaders from both sides of the Capitol — including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who was intimately involved in the high-level negotiations.

“Any time you do four leaders, it’s the responsibility of all four to get the votes. If Pelosi, if she agreed to it, there would be a number of Dems voting for it as well,” McCarthy said.

“If it was a Republican-only bill, we wouldn’t of had to negotiate with Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMoulton drops out of presidential race after struggling to gain traction Conservatives push Trump tariff relief over payroll tax cuts Democrats press FBI, DHS on response to white supremacist violence MORE … I don’t understand, if you have four leaders agree to a bill, why do you get to negotiate if you’re not going to vote for the bill? And why would she agree to it then?”

The comments came after Pelosi delivered an eight-hour speech on the House floor, where she vowed to oppose the budget deal she helped negotiate unless she gets a commitment to consider legislation in the House to protect young immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children, known as “Dreamers.”

But it’s unclear how many other Democrats will also vote against the legislation without concessions on immigration, though Pelosi said a “large number” would likely oppose it.

Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic field narrows with Inslee exit Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report MORE (D-Ohio) said Wednesday night that Democratic leaders were not pressuring their members to vote a certain way on the budget deal. He expressed openness to supporting the agreement, which includes a number of other Democratic priorities.

“I’m going to look at it, and we’ll see what happens, but what I’ve seen so far, it looks like it’s moving in the right direction,” Ryan said.

It’s still unclear exactly how many Democratic votes GOP leaders will need to get the package over the finish line.

House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseManchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Sunday shows - Trump's Epstein conspiracy theory retweet grabs spotlight Sanders: Trump doesn't 'want to see somebody get shot' but 'creates the climate for it' MORE (R-La.) said they whipped their own members on the proposal during the Wednesday night vote series, “so I’ll have that shortly.”

“Whenever the Senate gets done with their business, we’re going to take care of our business,” Scalise said. “This was a bipartisan agreement, and not just on the House side. It’s been in the works for months.”

The deal, announced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), calls for raising the debt ceiling through March 2019 and busting budget caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act. It would boost funding for the Pentagon and domestic programs by about $300 billion over current levels over the next two fiscal years, but lawmakers said only about $100 billion of that would be offset.

The framework has the backing of President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE, which he called "so important for our great Military."

The Bipartisan Budget Act also calls for an additional four years of funding for a popular children’s health program; $90 billion in additional disaster aid for hurricane-ravaged Florida, Puerto Rico and Texas; billions more to fight the opioid epidemic and funding for community health centers that serve the poor and uninsured.

The legislation would keep the government funded for another six weeks, through March 23. That would give lawmakers enough time to write an omnibus spending bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year and break the pattern of passing continuing resolutions.