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House GOP Likes Chances of Tweaked CR

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

House GOP leaders are exploring voting again on the stopgap funding bill that failed to pass the chamber Wednesday night.

Republican leadership aides said today they are optimistic that they now have enough GOP votes to pass the bill through the House.

The House continuing resolution is expected to remain virtually unchanged from the failed measure — except for the addition of a $100 million offset for the $3.6 billion in disaster funding. The $100 million would come from a Department of Energy program that provided loan guarantees to Solyndra LLC, a bankrupt Fremont, Calif., solar-panel maker. Republicans are also considering having it run through Nov. 10, as opposed to the intial measure’s Nov. 18, as a cost-saving measure.

Republicans were hopeful their whipping efforts would pay off quickly.

“My ambition is to do it today,” Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (Ky.) said. “We don’t have time to wait around.”

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) was pleased with the final decision to keep the offsets — and additional savings.

“The important thing is, we’ll be keeping the offsets,” said Allen, who added that he believes enough conservatives will flip their votes to pass the bill this evening.

Part of the rationale for adding the $100 million offset is that it would provide the 48 Republicans who voted against the CR, and their leaders, with cover to switch their vote. Those Republicans opposed the House bill because it would spend more than agreed to under the House budget resolution. However, the CR adheres to spending caps included in a deal to raise the debt ceiling and enacted into law last month. The new offset would call attention to Solyndra, a firm Republicans have accused the White House of improperly directing preferential treatment to.

Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), when asked why conservatives may be switching votes now, said, “As leadership has said, this was the best deal we were going to get,” adding that a “half a dozen” conservatives indicated a willingness to flip their votes.

Republicans have latched on to the Solyndra matter because the DOE program was funded with 2009 stimulus money. The GOP is seeking to draw a parallel between the 2009 stimulus, which it argues did not boost the economy, and wasted taxpayer dollars, with the president’s new $447 billion jobs plan.

The FBI raided Solyndra’s headquarters on Sept. 8 as part of an investigation with the DOE’s inspector general.

The decision by House Republican leaders to go with basically the same bill stems from conversations with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who told House GOP leaders that he was fairly confident that the bill would go through the Senate unchanged.

Senate Democrats passed a bill last week that would provide $7 billion for disaster relief. The bill passed with 10 Senate Republican votes, but it is unclear if those Senators would vote again with Democrats given the option to vote for the House CR.

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