The Democratic leaders’ decision to lock arms against three usually noncontroversial spending bills threatens to put a chokehold on the GOP’s spending strategy this year. They’re attempting a redo of last year’s spending strategy, which forced House GOP leaders into painful negotiations with their divided caucus to put up the 218 votes for spending bills themselves. GOP funding battles, as they aim for more policy wins in the spending bill that will eventually need to be bipartisan.
House Democratic leaders are pushing back against a GOP spending package slated for a floor vote this week, potentially forcing Republican leaders into a last-minute vote scramble while undercutting their strategy to avoid a fiscal showdown this fall.
Democratic leaders sent a letter to rank-and-file members Tuesday urging them to block the three-bill spending bundle, H.R. 5895 (115) – which would mean rejecting funding for popular programs like Veterans Affairs and the Army Corps of Engineers – to gain leverage in future funding fights.
“The GOP minibus package on the floor this week is partisan, wrong-headed and dangerous,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her deputies wrote in a letter obtained by POLITICO. “House Democrats must stand together once again, to fight for the priorities that matter in the lives of the American people.”
The Democratic leaders’ decision to lock arms against three usually noncontroversial spending bills threatens to put a chokehold on the GOP’s spending strategy this year. They’re attempting a redo of last year’s spending strategy, which forced House GOP leaders into painful negotiations with their divided caucus to put up the 218 votes for spending bills themselves.
House Democratic leaders are hoping for a repeat of those GOP vs. GOP funding battles, as they aim for more policy wins in the spending bill that will eventually need to be bipartisan.
“House Democrats’ strong opposition to Republicans’ cynical strategy last year gave us powerful leverage in the omnibus," the Democratic letter reads, ticking off wins like extra funding for medical research, education and election security.
The move surprised even some Republicans, who believed Democrats would be hard-pressed to vote against funding for veterans’ health care or Capitol Police.
That strategy could mean a headache for GOP leaders this week, as they attempt to head off a chaotic floor fight over immigration while also passing their first 2019 spending bill.
Republicans can’t afford to lose more than about 17 votes to pass spending bills on the floor. That means the House Freedom Caucus could once again hold up the bill to extract demands on separate legislation – like a hard-line immigration bill.
Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said Tuesday night that he and his members hadn’t yet taken a position on the House GOP’s minibus.
“We’re going to talk about it tonight,” Meadows said.
Democrats had already objected to a spate of policy riders in the Energy Department’s section in the bill, such as a provision to allow firearms at Army Corps facilities. But the other two bills in the package – Military Construction-VA and Legislative Branch – had been approved unanimously by the House’s spending panel.
GOP leaders had been counting on at least some Democratic votes for the minibus package. The largest portion of the bill funds the Veterans Affairs and military projects in member’s hometowns – programs that are hard to oppose even in years when lawmakers aren’t on the ballot.
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who oversees the Department of Energy portion of the bill, said Tuesday he was surprised to hear Democrats were attempting to block the package.
“I don’t know how it will turn out in the end, but obviously, if you don’t get any Democratic votes, it makes it harder, but I think we’ll still pass it,” Simpson said.
The longtime appropriator pointed out that $15 billion within his own bill goes toward nuclear weapons and security. “To vote against that would be crazy,” he said, predicting that at least some House Democrats will feel pressured to support it.
Democrats have accused GOP spending leaders of shortchanging key domestic programs in the name of security spending. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) wrote in a release that Republicans have "diverted" cash from Congress’ budget deal toward their own priorities, like border security and nuclear programs, instead of putting more money into education or medical research.
Be First to Comment