House Conservatives Challenge Bipartisan Government Funding Deal

Harper Quill

Updated Monday, March 4, 2024 at 12:04 PM CDT

House Conservatives Challenge Bipartisan Government Funding Deal

In a pivotal moment for the GOP, House conservatives have openly expressed their frustration over the recent bipartisan deal to fund the government, criticizing it for lacking the substantial spending cuts they had campaigned for. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who has been steering the House for less than half a year, is now facing the threat of a no-confidence vote from hard-liner conservatives dissatisfied with his leadership.

Despite the internal rift, Speaker Johnson continues to advocate for the bipartisan deal, which aims to fund government agencies through September at increased levels, diverging from the austerity measures favored by the right-wing factions of his party. This development underscores the diminished influence of conservative hardliners in the current appropriations process, a stark contrast to their historical role in shaping legislation through the House Rules Committee and floor blockades.

Acknowledging the weakened leverage of conservatives, Rep. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), a member of the Freedom Caucus, has indicated a certain resignation to the current political dynamics. This sentiment is echoed by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who likened the GOP majority's budgetary stance to a football team that fails to play offensive, underscoring the dissatisfaction among some Republicans.

In an attempt to bypass the hard-liner conservatives, Speaker Johnson has employed a "suspension of the rules" process to pass bipartisan bills, a strategy that has not gone without criticism. Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) has warned of potential political backlash if Republicans fall short of delivering on their campaign promises, which include stringent spending cuts and bolstered border security.

Conversely, Financial Services Committee Chair Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) interprets the hardliners' acquiescence as a reluctant acknowledgment of the political realities imposed by the small GOP majority. He notes Speaker Johnson's transparency regarding the inevitability of a bipartisan deal, a narrative the Speaker has maintained for months.

Tensions escalated as twenty-eight Freedom Caucus members demanded Speaker Johnson keep them updated on the appropriations process, requesting controversial policy riders and cautioning against limited GOP support in their absence. Despite these pressures, Johnson has held regular meetings since January to discuss the FY24 appropriations process and has set expectations for modest achievements, predicting "singles and doubles" rather than sweeping victories.

The conservative wing of the GOP holds the option to file a motion to vacate the Speakership, a tactic previously used to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. However, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) suggest that conservatives are currently not inclined to employ this drastic measure against Johnson.

Amidst the leadership challenges, Congressional leaders have unveiled a package of six bills to set full-year spending levels for certain federal agencies, adhering to the House's 72-hour review rule before a vote. This legislative package, aimed at preventing a partial government shutdown, covers departments such as Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Transportation, and Justice. Lawmakers are racing against a March 22 deadline to vote on the spending package, which constitutes roughly $460 billion, less than 30% of the total discretionary spending approved by Congress for the year.

Defense spending remains a contentious component under negotiation. Despite the tumult, Speaker Johnson claims policy and spending victories for conservatives within the spending bills, such as maintaining non-defense spending at levels similar to the previous year, effectively $70 billion less than President Biden's proposal. An agreement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has been reached on a $1.6 trillion discretionary spending figure for the year.

Democrats, for their part, have managed to block most policy riders sought by Republicans in the spending bills. They have introduced a bill intending to reverse the FDA's decision on the sale of mifepristone in retail pharmacies. The spending package also includes full funding for the WIC program and defends against cuts to housing and nutrition programs, while thwarting efforts to limit women's health services and climate change initiatives, as emphasized by Schumer.

In a significant policy achievement for House Republicans, the sale of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China has been prohibited. Additionally, a provision alters how the VA shares information with the FBI's background check system, strengthening gun rights for certain veterans and preventing the VA from submitting beneficiary information to the FBI without judicial approval.

Despite these developments, conservative GOP members have criticized the spending bills, with many voting against the short-term extension to prevent a government shutdown. The extension ultimately passed with significant majorities in both the House (320-99) and the Senate (77-13), reflecting bipartisan support but also highlighting the Republican party's internal divisions. The delayed budget process, now five months into the budget year, adds to the complexities facing the GOP as it grapples with its policy direction and leadership stability.

Conservative Bias:

Folks, what we're witnessing here is nothing short of a complete betrayal by so-called Republicans who have sold their souls to the altar of bipartisan compromise, completely abandoning the principled conservative stance on fiscal responsibility. These spineless GOP members, led by Speaker Mike Johnson, are caving to the whims of the left, funding their bloated government programs and ignoring the clear mandate given to them by the American people to slash spending and secure our borders. They're playing ball with the Democrats, allowing them to block vital policy riders, and shamelessly patting themselves on the back for policy "victories" that are nothing but crumbs. This is a slap in the face to every hard-working American who voted for a government that would put their interests first, not the interests of the Washington elite and their bureaucratic cronies. It's clear that the true conservatives in the party, the Freedom Caucus, are being sidelined as the establishment continues to cozy up to liberal agendas, jeopardizing our nation's future for short-term political gain. This is not the Republican Party we fought for; this is a party that has lost its way, and it's time for real conservatives to take a stand against this travesty of governance.

Liberal Bias:

Once again, the obstinate and reckless faction of the GOP, the so-called Freedom Caucus, is throwing a tantrum over the bipartisan efforts to responsibly fund our government. Their incessant cries for austerity and draconian cuts are nothing but an attack on the American people, who rely on essential programs and services that these heartless conservatives are all too eager to gut. Speaker Mike Johnson, despite his best efforts to navigate the treacherous waters of his fractured party, is under siege by these extremists who would rather see the government shut down than to compromise. It's a clear illustration of how the Republican Party is held hostage by its most radical elements, who are out of touch with the needs of the country and the will of the electorate. They decry the lack of sweeping victories, yet they fail to recognize that governance is not about grandstanding but about ensuring the stability and well-being of the nation. Their opposition to funding vital departments and their assault on women's health and environmental protections reveal a party that is devoid of compassion and common sense. It's time for reasonable voices within the GOP to reject these hardline tactics and to affirm their commitment to serving all Americans, not just the interests of their ideologically driven base.

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