Latest News 30-11-2023 00:03 10 Views

Conservative lawmakers wary over slowdown in government funding fight: ‘We punted’

Several conservatives told Fox News Digital on Wednesday that they don’t expect any votes on the House’s remaining appropriations bills until the new year — a move they’re concerned will cost Republicans valuable time in negotiations.

'I guess we'll take it up in January. We punted. I hate that we did it the way we did it,' Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., a member of the hardline-right House Freedom Caucus, told Fox News Digital. 'This body is good — Republicans and Democrats are good at spending taxpayers' money, and they’re not good at cutting anything.'

Lawmakers returned on Tuesday from a Thanksgiving break and will recess again until January on Dec. 15. 

Just before leaving, Congress passed a temporary extension of last year’s government funding levels, but with two separate deadlines: passing appropriations bills concerning military construction and Veterans Affairs; Agriculture; Energy and Water; Transportation; and Housing and Urban Development by Jan. 19, while the remaining eight appropriations bills must be worked out by Feb. 2.  

While the measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), allowed Congress to avoid a government shutdown over the holidays, Rep. Keith Self, R-Texas, told Fox News Digital he believed it also dampened the urgency for Congress to make a deal. 

'All we've done with these two CRs is kick the can down the road. We still have a tough road ahead of us. We’ve got to get on with our business,' Self said. 'We took the pressure off with the CRs. This town needs a deadline. When you moved the deadline out, it takes pressure off. This town responds to pressure. Otherwise, we're happy to just let things go.'

He said the House should be 'pushing hard' on its remaining spending bills or 'sitting down with the Senate daily' to discuss a deal.

The House has passed seven of 12 individual appropriations bills it has pledged to fund the government in the next fiscal year. Before that, the Senate passed its own three spending bills in a joint 'minibus' and is potentially weighing a similar effort with the other nine.

'We need to start discussing this stuff. You know, we’re following that same old trap where we get down, and then leadership comes from on high and tells us what we're going to do,' Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., told Fox News Digital. 'I would hope they start listening to us on some of these spending measures.'

But the government funding fight has been fraught with intra-GOP divisions for months. Before the CR passed, House leaders were forced to pull spending bills from the vote schedule multiple times over objections from both moderates and conservatives.

One senior GOP aide said those disagreements were the reason for the apparent slowdown.

'I think people are worn out. I think they have to discuss behind the scenes if we can un-jam any of the ones that we have that are jammed up,' the aide told Fox News Digital. 'We threw everything at the wall trying to get these appropriations bills passed. We couldn't. So I just don't think there's going to be a breakthrough at the moment.'

A GOP lawmaker who spoke with Fox News Digital said conversations between the top appropriators in the House and Senate were 'ongoing' and downplayed the public delay.

'I don't know that there's a clear benefit to moving them at this point. I mean, the rules of the House indicate that our official negotiating position can be set when something's passed out of appropriations or passed out of the rules… We’ve got our marching orders for all 12 bills, we're in a position to be able to negotiate with the Senate, we should go negotiate with Senate,' the lawmaker said.


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