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GOP Leaders Push House Holdouts to Spending Bill Through Dec. 22

Erik Wasson
Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, speaks to members of the media in the basement of the U.S. Capitol before a Republican policy meeting luncheon in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Senate Republicans gave up on their last-ditch proposal to repeal Obamacare today as opposition in their own ranks ended months of fruitless efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

House Republicans leaders are moving to quell a rebellion within their ranks over a stopgap spending bill needed to avert a government shutdown on Saturday by attempting to push forward with a two-week measure that expires Dec. 22.

Republicans emerged from a contentious morning meeting Tuesday saying that House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and other leaders told them that the Senate is resisting a longer stopgap measure backed by the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

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The Freedom Caucus on Monday night threatened to block progress on President Donald Trump’s tax bill unless the group gets support to extend the spending measure to Dec. 30. Caucus member Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, told reporters that doing so would give conservatives more leverage over senators who want to add legislation to the stopgap bill.

Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, has made her tax vote contingent on passage of a bill shoring up Obamacare insurance markets, which Freedom Caucus members see as a bailout of President Barack Obama’s signature achievement.

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Leaders told members they’ll gauge support among Republicans for a Dec. 22 stopgap measure.

"We will go to the Rules Committee today with a bill and that bill will say Dec. 22 on it," Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican, told reporters. Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican and member of the Appropriations Committee, said most House Republicans support a Dec. 22 stopgap.

Some conservatives said they’re being strong-armed by leaders.

“They told everybody what our will is,” said Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican.

The Freedom Caucus rebellion could empower House Democrats to seek concessions on the short-term measure if their votes are needed to pass it. On Monday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said she wouldn’t say how she’d vote on the six-page bill without seeing it.

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Freedom Caucus member Dave Brat, a Virginia Republican, told reporters he could vote for a Dec. 22 stopgap if he got assurances of a defense spending increase later.

Behind the scenes, top Democrats and Republicans are preparing for a Thursday negotiating session with Trump over a long-term budget deal. Democrats are seeking more funding for domestic priorities and permanent legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

Conservatives in the Republican Study Committee are trying to influence the talks by presenting a list of $1 trillion in possible spending cuts to pay for military spending increases.

Bradley Byrne, an Alabama Republican, advocates attaching a full defense spending bill to the next stopgap measure that runs into January and daring Senate Democrats to oppose it.

“They could either do that and give a pay raise to our servicemen and women and provide the money we need to take care of these places with hurricanes, or they can shut down the government," he said.

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