GOPers fear trillion-dollar vote is inevitable

GOPers fear trillion-dollar vote is inevitable
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House Republicans fear they are headed toward the passage of a trillion-dollar omnibus spending bill after the election, despite promises from leadership for a different approach.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece Cutting critical family support won't solve the labor crisis Juan Williams: Trump's GOP descends into farce MORE (R-Wis.) and his team have sought to rally support for a stopgap spending measure, needed to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1, by promising votes on “bite-sized” appropriations bills after Election Day.

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But rank-and-file Republicans, from the conservative House Freedom Caucus to the moderate Tuesday Group, say the strategy to break up the spending bill into "minibus" packages is wishful thinking.

“In theory, it’s a great idea. In practice, it’ll be difficult,” said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), who leads the Appropriations subpanel for veterans and military construction.

Ryan in the past has described passage of an omnibus bill as a “crap sandwich” and promised last year that Republicans would do things differently under his Speakership. 

In January, Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGrassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa House Democrats grow frustrated as they feel ignored by Senate Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines MORE (R-Ky.) vowed to move all 12 individual spending bills, something that hadn’t been accomplished in more than a decade.

But GOP leaders failed to reach that goal, with Democrats blocking appropriations bills stalling in the Senate and the legislative calendar curtailed by the election season.

That leaves Republicans with the challenge of funding the government for the next fiscal year, which has in the past been done through passage of an omnibus that piles all 12 appropriations bills together. 

But in meetings at the White House this week with Congressional Democrats, Ryan ruled out passing an omnibus at the end of the year, according to aides.

“An omnibus is a very unpopular word,” Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) told reporters last week, adding that kind of package “is likely out of the question.” 

This week, Rogers said he remained optimistic that the minibus packages could “cover the entirety” of the spending bill. When asked if he believed those measures could pass, he said, “I hope so.”

One of the most vocal critics of this last-minute approach to spending bills is Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), who says the House has been on a path toward an omnibus since May when leadership “lost” regular order. 

“I don’t think there’s any surprise what’s going to happen. It’s very clear we’re going to have an [omnibus] in December,” Brat, a member of the House Budget Committee who unseated then-Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorBottom line Virginia GOP candidates for governor gear up for convention Cantor: 'Level of craziness' in Washington has increased 'on both sides' MORE (R-Va.) in 2014, told The Hill. “It’ll be a disaster budget bill at the end of the year, right before Christmas.”

Brat dismissed the minibus strategy as a “bunch of fancy terminology that just confuses everybody.”  

Some Democratic leaders have come out harshly against Ryan's minibus plan, fearing the Republicans will fund their favored programs while neglecting those supported by Democrats.

"It's crazy," Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraFlorida asks Supreme Court to block CDC's limits on cruise ship industry White House announces new funds for COVID-19 testing and vaccination amid delta surge Lawmakers introduce bipartisan Free Britney Act MORE (Calif.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said Tuesday. "They're hoping, by doing these so-called minibuses, that some ... will ride through the finish line, and they'll get funded, and then what they'll do is they'll leave the ... things they don't like behind, and let those things shut down."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Democrats could support the minibus strategy — but only if they were given assurances that parts of the budget aren't shortchanged in the process. 

"I don't know what the point is of doing minibuses unless they add up to an omnibus. In other words, you can't say, 'We're doing minibuses, which means we're only doing certain bills. We're not doing the whole package.' So … if the minibuses add up to an omnibus — if everything is included — [then] we can vote on something like that when we see the whole package. But you can't ... go with one bill, use up all the money and say there's nothing left for the others." 

The fate of the minibus strategy will be a key test for Ryan among the conservatives who helped force out his predecessor, John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFreedom Caucus presses McCarthy to force vote to oust Pelosi Stripping opportunity from DC's children Here's what Congress is reading at the beach this summer MORE (R-Ohio).

House conservatives have said from the start that they would be examining how Ryan handles this year’s appropriations process.

“If we are here next year having just passed an omnibus, that is an F-minus [for Ryan],” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said earlier this year.

This week, Massie sharply criticized this year’s spending process so far: “This is exactly what Speaker BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFreedom Caucus presses McCarthy to force vote to oust Pelosi Stripping opportunity from DC's children Here's what Congress is reading at the beach this summer MORE was indicted for, essentially, which was to corrupt the process.”

Ryan declared in the first few weeks of his Speakership that restoring “regular order” to the appropriations process would be his “No. 1” priority. The former budget committee chairman vowed to end the decadelong precedent of catchall spending deals. 

“We shouldn’t be putting appropriations bills together this way,” Ryan said late in 2014, shortly after passing a high-profile budget deal negotiated by Boehner. “We shouldn’t have a handful of people in a room putting together a trillion-dollar spending bill.”

Rep. Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Calls mount to start transition as Biden readies Cabinet picks Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it MORE (R-Texas), chairman of the 170-member Republican Study Committee, acknowledged the prospects of moving any appropriations packages — whether a minibus or a single spending bill — through the Senate would be a “heavy lift” this year.

“The Senate’s got to resolve the appropriations dysfunction that they’ve had,” he said.

While he prefers a spending bill that goes through March, Flores said the next best option is holding out until after the election and hoping for a “better” reception in the Senate. One thing he won’t support, he said, is an omnibus.

“Oh, no, we’re not going to do an omnibus. We don’t want to go there again,” Flores said.

Mike Lillis contributed.