House GOP Likes Chances of Tweaked CR
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.
Senate Democrats oppose the House CR because they say it doesn’t provide enough for disaster aid and because it offsets about $1 billion of the $3.6 billion in disaster funds. Democrats argue that offsetting disaster funding is not often done and that it unnecessarily politicizes the process and results in delaying relief to victims. They also argue that House Republicans are reneging on an agreement that was part of the debt deal to provide up to $11 billion in disaster aid.
The offset currently in the bill would come from cutting funds for DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program. The ATVM program helps the auto industry retool or expand factories to produce fuel-efficient technology. Democrats argue that the program creates jobs and to cut it is not good policy. The total offset, including the Solyndra-related addition, would add up to about $1.1 billion.
At the House Republicans’ caucus meeting this afternoon, Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) sought to underscore that unless Republicans stick together, they will have to work with Democrats, which will result in spending more money.
He also stressed that the CR in its current form is the best deal Republicans can hope to get, so everyone should help get it passed.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) indicated that Democrats will try to hold their line once again against the CR. Just six members of her party backed it Wednesday.
“We believe that we should not go down a different path now than we have done for disaster assistance,” Pelosi said.
Instead, she said, “We shouldn’t even be having this conversation. This is a conversation that should have never gone down this path.”
Pelosi also noted that any deal Republicans agree must “be acceptable to the United States Senate.”
“I remind that it’s a bicameral legislature, and if we want to not shut down the government, you need to have something that’s going to be able to be passed in the Senate,” she warned.
John Stanton, Jessica Brady and Jonathan Strong contributed to this story.