Obama’s last-minute “Title 10 authority” request could make it tougher for Hoyer and other Democrats to oppose the GOP spending bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
The decision by House leadership on Wednesday afternoon to postpone action on the GOP’s proposed continuing resolution gives critics another week to dissect the stopgap spending bill.
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy blamed the delay Wednesday on a last-minute request from the White House, which a day earlier asked that the so-called “Title 10 authority” be added to the CR shortly after Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers introduced the $1.012-trillion bill.
President Barack Obama actually called Rogers to ask that the authority be included in the CR, which as written now would keep the government up and running through Dec. 11.
But conservatives emerged from a Tuesday night meeting with Sen. Ted Cruz expressing a desire to change how long the government will be funded under the bill. A number of Republicans want to extend the CR to March 1, when Republicans are optimistic they will control both the House and the Senate.
Cruz called on House Republicans Wednesday to reject the Dec. 11 option.
“It would be a serious mistake for House Republicans to pass a Continuing Resolution that would ensure that Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats would come back to Washington, after many of them will have likely lost their seats, for a no-holds barred lame duck session where they will be free to pass legislation that the American people will never be able to hold them responsible for,” the Texas Republican said in a statement provided to CQ Roll Call.
Another issue is the Export-Import Bank. The House-proposed bill extends the credit agency to June 30.
While it doesn’t end the bank as many conservatives wanted, it’s being sold to the far right as a strategy to decouple the bank from a spending bill. By sunsetting the CR and the Ex-Im Bank on different dates, conservatives are hopeful the bank will truly die by next summer — though that might just be wishful thinking.
The bank’s biggest opponent, Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas, signed off on the deal, and he may be able to allay many GOP concerns.
“Not the first time that I’ve swallowed hard in my congressional career,” Hensarling said Wednesday.
But Democrats may not be so inclined to go along with that Ex-Im deal. Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters earlier this week he wanted an Ex-Im extension of five years at a minimum, and he feels he’s in a sound negotiating position.
Still, the new defense language that was requested by Obama might undermine Democratic attempts to strike a better Ex-Im deal.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday that Congress should give the Title 10 authority to the president. “That is one way of helping build an international coalition,” he said.
Obama adviser Lisa Monaco spent part of Wednesday on the Hill lobbying, and the president and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. have called members lobbying for the authority.
If Republicans include the president’s request, it becomes more difficult for Democratic leadership to lobby against the underlying bill. That may be the secret to getting the measure over the finish line.
House GOP leaders insist the delay is solely about the president’s request, not a problem with leadership lining up votes — an explanation many Republicans members said they believe.
Rep. Tom Cole said he never thought the CR was going to be a “tough vote.”
“I know the Democrats have tried to jam us a little bit on Ex-Im,” the Oklahoma Republican said. “But really? You’re going to shut down the government because the authorization that we provide doesn’t go as far as you would like? I mean, I think that’s a pretty weak stick to try to wield.”
Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., thought members were better off taking more time to educate themselves on the threat Islamic State poses, and he said it was appropriate to take more time to consider the implications of arming Syrian rebels. “This is substantive policy change,” he said.
Of course, no matter what changes in the bill, there will be opponents to the legislation, which Rogers said would come up for a vote next week on Wednesday.
Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., said he already had problems with the military funding in the bill — the bill provides a slushy $85.2 billion for overseas contingency operations, significantly above the roughly $60 billion the administration requested — and he didn’t buy the argument that extending Ex-Im and decoupling it with a spending bill would make it any easier to end. “I’ve been here too long,” he said.
Citing problems with the process, Arizona Republican Matt Salmon said he is committed to voting against any CR.
“This process where we use it every year to run government is asinine,” Salmon said.
Salmon called the repeated use of continuing resolutions amount to a “dereliction of duty,” and unlike many of his colleagues who are supporting the bill, Salmon thinks leaving the CR exposed to attacks on the left and right hurt its prospects of passage.
“It’s always more troublesome the longer anything hangs out there,” he said.
Humberto Sanchez, Steven T. Dennis and Emma Dumain contributed to this report.
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