House Republican leaders proposed a fourth stopgap spending measure to their caucus on Tuesday night, betting that a few popular sweeteners and opposition from Democratic leaders would drum up enough GOP support to send the measure to the Senate, with or without Democratic votes. The continuing resolution would finance the government at current levels through Feb. 16, delay several ObamaCare-related taxes for a year or two, and finance the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years. The third and current short-term spending package expires at midnight Friday.
The spending bill needs 218 votes in the House, and most Republicans reportedly backed the measure Tuesday night, sometimes unenthusiastically. But House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) balked. "Based on the number of 'no' and undecided votes, there is not enough votes for a Republican-only bill," he said, dismissing the ObamaCare tax delays as a "gimmick." In the Senate, nine Democrats would have to vote with every Republican to pass the resolution, and Democrats are threatening to withhold their votes unless Republicans include a solution for DREAMers, the 700,000 young immigrants who are already losing their work permits and face deportation starting in March under President Trump's executive order.
Trump and Republicans are banking on Democrats folding, arguing that not voting to avert the first government shutdown since 2013 would harm the military (a decision that appears to rest at least in part with Trump, who can exempt "essential" personnel). Government shutdowns when one party controls both Congress and the White House are rare. "We don't need any Democrats in the House," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.). "And I don't think the Democrats in the Senate have the nerve to shut down the government." Lawmakers are working to salvage a bipartisan plan to protect DREAMers, but are pessimistic they would have it ready by Friday, especially with the White House calling it dead on arrival. Peter Weber