WASHINGTON (NBC) — House Republicans overcame a major obstacle late Thursday when the most conservative wing of the conference announced its support for the short-term spending measure to avoid a government shutdown. The measure passed the House on mostly party line 230-197 vote.
The 11th-hour development paves the way for passage of the stop-gap government funding bill that would fund the government for an additional six weeks ahead of a Friday deadline. But the fate of the measure is uncertain in the Senate where at least six Republican senators have come against the measure.
House passage was secured late Thursday when Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, announced his support for the legislation after securing promises from GOP leaders on conservative-backed measures involving immigration and the military.
The Freedom Caucus members were the final hold-outs, putting the measure in jeopardy. The White House had been pressuring Meadows and the Freedom Caucus to come on board, including one more last-ditch call by President Donald Trump to Meadows Thursday afternoon. Trump’s call combined with Ryan’s last-minute promises to hold a vote to increase military spending by $80 billion and hold a vote on a conservative immigration bill if enough support to pass it is obtained.
However, in the Senate, Republican leaders’ efforts to avoid a government shutdown continue to be met with stiff resistance. A senior Democratic aide tells NBC News that they have the votes to block it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent an email to his 50 Republican members blaming Democrats for being “irresponsible” in their threats to vote against the stopgap bill and urging his colleagues to not join them.
“This is an irresponsible position to take as everything from pay for our military to processing social security checks will be affected. I hope not a single Republican is inclined to join them,” McConnell wrote. “ I know we are all frustrated by the pace of negotiations on spending, but joining Democrats to shut down the government plays right into the Democrats hand. We are strongest when we stick together — that will produce the best spending deal and the best DACA deal — one that has a chance of being enacted into law.”
The email comes as at least six Republicans said they won’t support the temporary spending measure, threatening to derail it in the Senate.
This would be the fourth short-term spending bill since the fiscal year began in October, and some Republicans are pushing for longer-term planning.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is one of those senators who said he’d oppose the spending measure.
“I think we’re not going to get a (continuing resolution) through the Congress until we have a pathway forward to increase defense spending, deal with immigration, CHIP and everything else.”
CHIP is the health insurance program for low-income children that is extended for six years in this proposed spending measure.
Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump caused confusion over the bill when he tweeted that the CHIP extension should not be included in a short-term measure, throwing the whole effort into doubt. The White House later clarified the president’s comments, saying that he supports the continuing resolution being proposed in the House.
Many Democrats have said they want a deal on the fate of undocumented immigrants whose DACA status is due to expire in March before they support another spending bill. Leaders of both parties in the House and the Senate continue to meet to discuss a path forward on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, but a deal by Friday seems unlikely.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., proposed passing an even shorter stop-gap measure, perhaps just one week, and keep the Senate in session until they reach a deal on DACA and how to move forward on spending.
While rank-and-file members indicated it’s an idea they’d support, McConnell has given no indication he’d entertain the idea.