Republican Party leaders in both chambers are facing a mini-revolt among freshmen and conservatives over the three-week spending bill that they negotiated with Senate Democrats.
The fight over funding the budget for the rest of the year has dragged on so long without a deal that conservatives in both chambers appear to have had just about enough, with a growing trickle of lawmakers willing to risk a government shutdown instead of voting for another short-term measure.
“In both chambers the natives are getting restless,” said a Senate Republican aide, who added that both parties seemed stuck in the middle of a “ginormous game of chicken.”
Conservative Republicans started coming out against the short-term deal Monday — unwilling to go home for another recess without something more significant than an additional $6 billion in spending cuts. Without an extension, a partial government shutdown will begin Friday at midnight.
Freshman Sen. Marco Rubio announced early Monday that he would no longer support any short-term spending bills.
The Florida Republican blamed Senate Democrats for focusing on Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization and patent reform instead of debt reduction, and President Barack Obama for a lack of engagement.
“All this has led to a very predictable outcome: Washington politicians of both parties scrambling to put together two- and three-week plans to keep funding the government, while not fundamentally changing the behavior that has gotten us into this mess to begin with,” Rubio said. “I commend the efforts of House and Senate Republican leaders to deal with this, but I did not come to the U.S. Senate to be part of some absurd political theater.”
Rubio’s statement came as several influential conservative groups, including the Heritage Foundation’s political arm, the Club for Growth and the Family Research Council, came out against the three-week deal negotiated by GOP leaders and said they would score the votes in their annual legislative scorecards.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged that his Conference is divided on the measure over the level of spending cuts and the lack of policy riders.
“I think we can stipulate that it’s not going to be easy,” the Kentucky Republican said at a press conference, but he predicted the measure would pass.
McConnell defended the short-term deal, arguing that the $6 billion cut over three weeks is in line with House plans to cut $61 billion through September.
House Republican leaders have dissension of their own to deal with before the vote expected today.
In addition to the conservative groups lobbying against passage, Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan announced he would oppose the measure.
Former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., candidate for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, holds his hand over his heart during the singing of the national anthem as he waits to take the stage for his town hall campaign rally with Sen. John McCain at the Pinkerton Academy in Derry, N.H., on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.