Updated 1 p.m. | Don't expect any more appropriations bills to make it through the House chamber any time soon. Not until Republicans and Democrats work out issues on the Confederate flag.
That was the message to members on Tuesday from Speaker John A. Boehner, according to Rep. John Fleming.
Boehner reportedly told Republicans during their weekly closed-door meeting there was a hold on all spending bills until they could figure something out on the Confederate flag.
Republicans are looking to avoid another floor situation like the one that occurred on July 9, when Democrats forced votes on the Confederate flag. The Democrats' action came after an exclusive CQ Roll Call report the night before on Republican efforts to roll back restrictions on the display and sale of the Confederate symbols in federal cemeteries.
"We know that every approps bill that we put forward they're going to go back to trying to make some, you know — exploit for political reasons what happened in South Carolina," Fleming told reporters Tuesday. "And so the speaker wants to work something out with Democrats so they'll stop doing that so we can move forward."
Asked if Boehner knew that Democrats were going to bring up a Confederate flag amendment on every appropriations bill, Fleming said, "No, but he just knows Nancy Pelosi."
Boehner's office and the office of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy did not respond to requests for confirmation.
Republicans delayed consideration of the Financial Services appropriations bill for this week, and they pulled the Interior-Environment spending bill in an attempt to avoid a politically divisive vote on a Confederate flag amendment. But a complete hold on appropriations bills at this point in July — only two weeks away from the August recess — could mean that the appropriations season is officially over.
If Republicans and Democrats are unable to find an agreement on the Confederate flag, and if Boehner does not intend to put a spending bill on the floor until that issue is resolved, it will soon be September.
The House is scheduled to return from its summer break on Sept. 8, and there are only 10 legislative days in that month before government funding runs out.
With six appropriations bills through the House chamber, and exactly zero through the Senate, leaders could finally be looking at the prospect of a large spending deal to keep the government open.
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