House Republicans appeared eager to find a way forward to avoid a government shutdown but left a Monday morning closed-door meeting as far apart as ever on how to do it.
‘We’re kind of without a path forward,’ a senior GOP aide who attended the meeting told Fox News Digital afterward. ‘[Speaker Mike Johnson] said he doesn’t want to shut down. That was his ultimate goal. So we’ll see how he does that.’
Current government funding expires on Nov. 17. Leaders in both the House and Senate have acknowledged the need for a temporary extension of last year’s spending, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to give themselves more time to make a deal.
But House Republicans are divided on how to do it. It appears that two main tracks emerged in the Monday meeting — a straightforward extension, known as a ‘clean’ CR, or a ‘laddered’ approach that would stagger funding deadlines for different departments and agencies.
‘The best thing for us is to pass a clean CR,’ Rules Committee Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., told reporters.
However, Republican Study Committee Chair Kevin Hern, R-Okla., emerged from the meeting suggesting that conservative policy riders were a must-have.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., told reporters, ‘I can tell you with some level of confidence, there is this understanding that we’re going to have to do a… CR. And that’s different than what we have dealt with in the past when we had Republicans who wouldn’t vote for anything, right? No extension. I think that feels different now.’
Most GOP lawmakers said a vote on some kind of CR would likely happen early next week.
House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., said he preferred a ‘laddered approach’ with two funding deadlines — one in January and another at a later date.
‘Anything but the clean CR. Why continue [former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s] policies, and funding the government that’s given [President Biden] the lowest rating for the country in years?’ Norman said.
Rep. John Duarte, R-Calif., suggested a targeted approach to the laddered CR idea that would force the Senate and House to first compromise on the spending bills they already passed.
‘I think that if we’ve got some work done on certain appropriations bills, especially where the Senate’s already done the same bills, and put them through — let’s sit down and start hammering that out. Let’s do a continuing resolution on the issues we haven’t resolved, and let’s keep the government open and get the arm wrestling underway,’ Duarte said.
Currently, however, only one of 12 total appropriations bills that need to be passed overlap in the House and Senate — the spending bill dealing with military construction and Veterans Affairs.
There does not appear to be a plan for how to stagger priorities on the laddered CR. Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., told reporters after the meeting.
‘We’re just trying to figure out where the sweet spot is,’ Murphy said.
What’s clear, however, is that Johnson is not navigating the same fraught tensions and relationships that ousted ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was forced to work through when he passed a CR to keep the government open past the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
‘I think that ultimately, the leadership team has got to figure out where the votes lie,’ said Rep. Nick Langworthy, R-N.Y. ‘Shutdown is not an option.’
Johnson himself was vague on when the House would vote on something — or the details of what that thing is — during House GOP leadership’s weekly press conference.
‘I’m not going to show you all the cards right now. We have some very constructive, I think very positive, discussions going on,’ Johnson said. ‘I’m not going to tell you when we’ll bring it to the floor, but it will be in time… but trust us, we’re working through the process in a way that I think that we will be proud of.’