Update: In what could be a serious problem for Ryan and the rest of the GOP leadership, Democratic leaders in the House have asked their members to vote against the Republican continuing resolution bill as it stands.
.@WhipHoyer says House Democrats are being asked to vote against the stopgap-defense-disaster spending package.— Jennifer Shutt (@JenniferShutt) December 19, 2017
“We are asking our members to vote no. If Republicans want Democrats’ votes, they need to work with us on a serious compromise.”
In addition, Politico reported that several conservative House Republicans spoke out against including the reauthorization of the Obamacare CSRs in the final version of the bill - a condition that Mitch McConnell added to secure the vote of Maine moderate Susan Collins.
BIG PROBLEM BREWING — In House GOP meeting this morning, several members stood up and expressed opposition to restoring CSR payments in the year-end spending bill— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) December 19, 2017
In other news, McConnell said Tuesday that the Senate would vote on the reconciled Obamacare bill tonight.
The House is expected to vote early this afternoon.
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House Republicans have decided to attach provisions reauthorizing a popular child health-insurance program and allocating an unprecedented $81 billion in disaster-aid spending to a continuing resolution that would keep the federal government funded until Jan. 19, Politico reported Tuesday, citing anonymous Congressional aids.
House Speaker Paul Ryan disclosed the new strategy in a GOP conference meeting Wednesday morning.
NEWS— Ryan tells House Republicans he will attach the $81 billion supplemental disaster spending bill to the stopgap bill to keep the government open.— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) December 19, 2017
Funding for the federal government is set to run out on Friday at midnight, and Republican leaders have been preoccupied with tax reform and unable to focus on averting a shutdown and the myriad other legislative priorities that demand action before Congress enters recess.
By combining all the measures into one bill, Ryan will likely attract the support of Democrats in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, California and other states affected by this year’s natural disasters, who probably wouldn’t risk being seen opposing badly needed funding for their home states.
However, as the Hill explained earlier, even with CHIP and disaster aid attached to the House bill, averting a shutdown is far from assured. Indeed, Ryan is standing by a measure in the bill that would authorize spending for the Pentagon through September. That provision is incredibily unpopular with Democrats, whose votes Senate Republicans will need to overcome a filibuster.
Eight Democratic votes are needed in the senate to overcome a fillibuster. However, when it comes to locking in a year’s worth of defense spending, Ryan is facing a dilemma. Eliminating the provision could alienate conservative Republicans who might band together to oppose the bill. But cutting the defense-spending provision would likely attract Democratic votes.
Forty-four Democrats signed onto a letter vowing to oppose a combination CR–defense omnibus bill because of concerns about prioritizing defense spending over domestic programs.
Another issue likely to become a problem in the senate is reauthorizing the Obamacare subsidies that Trump cancelled back in October - a decision that has prompted participating insurers to warn of more premium hikes.
Susan Collins, a moderate Republican who was one of the last senators to throw her support behind tax reform, could be an obstacle for the spending bill. Once the CR reaches the senate, Republicans might try to attach the ObamaCare fixes that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised Collins in exchange for her vote on tax reform. However, conservatives like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz could try and block the bill from passing if these measures are added. Indeed, observers will be watching to see if McConnell breaks his promise to Collins, who could continue to create serious headaches for the leadership given their thin majority.