Looks like House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will try to close GOP ranks around existing legislation to fund the government rather than scrap a controversial requirement that disaster relief funds be offset with an unrelated budget cut. And that means they’ll be moving ahead without Democratic support — a risky gamble that could lead to a government shutdown if it fails.
“The Speaker’s seeking more Republican votes,” Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who led a House conservative rebellion on Wednesday, told reporters after an impromptu Thursday GOP meeting.
According to other Republicans, Boehner will swap out the existing disaster relief offset — a hybrid vehicle manufacturing incentive — with new cuts.
“It may not be exactly the same bill, but it’s going to be a very similar bill,” said Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID). “It’l be the same level of overall spending it’s just that some of the offsets will be a little different.”
“My ambition is to do it today,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY). GOP aides say another vote on funding the government could occur late this evening.
This means Republicans will largely be going it alone. At a simultaneous press conference, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said no offsets will be acceptable to her party.
“There has never been an offset for disaster assistance. You heard the distinguished chairman of the Appropriations Committee Mr. Rogers say ‘Oh we’ve done this with emergencies all the time.’ It’s a different word. There are many emergencies, a natural disaster is something else.”
Pelosi said the GOP’s specific tactic — disaster aid for popular manufacturing program — helped Democrats clarify the stakes. “They did a world a favor…because they made it so egregious,” Pelosi said. But other offsets will be equally unacceptable.
“It would be my hope that there would be some split the difference, the Republicans would come out and say we’re not going to go as high as you wanted…and we will have no offset. That I think would be a reasonable place to be,” Pelosi said. “[But] to speculate on the horrors that they could come up with, because you know they are endless and we could be here a long time.”
Additional reporting by Brian Fung.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.