Speaker Kevin McCarthy unveiled a new plan for a stopgap government funding bill in a closed-door meeting with GOP lawmakers on Wednesday evening.
The plan would fund the government for 30 days at a topline spending level of $1.471 trillion, a number conservative holdouts have been seeking, a cut of about $130 billion from current government funding levels, according to multiple people. The cut would exclude defense spending, Department of Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs.
It would also include House Republicans’ border security bill minus its eVerify provisions and would commit to establishing a commission to study the national debt crisis. In addition, it would commit the House to capping its 12 appropriations bills at $1.526 trillion total.
“McCarthy’s like, look, so what I’m hearing is we can’t figure out the top line completely. Why don’t we make two top lines,” a senior GOP aide told Fox News Digital after the meeting.
It comes after the House Republican majority fell into disarray this week over disagreements on how to fund the government and how – and if – to avoid a government shutdown, which could happen if Congress does not agree on a spending deal by Sept. 30.
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Multiple House GOP factions have come forward with plans for a short-term funding bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to give lawmakers more time to cobble together 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2024. Just one of those bills has passed the House so far.
The senior GOP aide said there were discussions over “changing the name” to not call the proposal a continuing resolution. Several of the conservative holdouts have had reservations over voting for a continuing resolution because it in theory would extend the priorities of the previous Democrat-controlled Congress.
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He said members in the closed-door meeting discussed “not calling it a CR, but calling it a government funding bill…because it’s not really technically a CR, because we’re slashing government along with it.”
The senior GOP aide estimated that there are still a handful of members opposed to a CR.
But in a sign of progress made at the members-only gathering, McCarthy said afterward that the House would plan a Thursday procedural vote on Republicans’ defense appropriations bill after the same measure tanked on Tuesday due to conservative concerns over spending.
McCarthy can currently afford to lose no more than four votes to pass a bill without Democratic support.
Out of five who voted against advancing the defense bill on Tuesday, two left the meeting telling reporters they would change their votes on Thursday.
Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., who voted against the rule on Tuesday and was opposed to the initial continuing resolution proposed by the House Freedom Caucus and Main Street Caucus, said he commits to voting for the defense bill and was in favor of McCarthy’s stopgap spending proposal.
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“We got a lot of the other things that we wanted, meaning finally the [topline] number, the strict border policy. What’s changed, though the Democrats were probably going to have a clean CR,” Norman told reporters, adding that several Republicans at the meeting said they would be open to working with Democrats on making an end-run around McCarthy to bring a clean continuing resolution to the floor.
“That was the threat. I wasn’t willing to turn it over to them, because all bets would be off on any type of spending,” Norman said. “They would spend three, four trillion. So that was a big decision.”
He said those commitments were based on trust that McCarthy would deliver on the topline numbers he mentioned in the meeting.
Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., another of the five holdouts on the defense bill vote, told reporters, “He got the numbers for the topline and Ralph came up to the mic and said, ‘I want to change my vote on the rule for DOD so we could move that forward.’” Buck said he would change his vote in solidarity with Norman.
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Lawmakers were told to remain in Washington on Friday and Saturday with the expectation they will vote on spending-related bills.
Another GOP lawmaker who attended the meeting expressed confidence that the defense bill would pass its procedural hurdle on Thursday.
“Sounds like we have the votes now. We better, because I’ve never seen this place so tired and pissed,” the lawmaker told Fox News Digital after the closed-door meeting.