WASHINGTON – House Republicans face a veto threat from President Joe Biden as they hope to pass the first of their government funding bills in the full house this week.
Fueled by a rebellion by House conservatives who want to underspend a recent budget deal and engage in culture war issues, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is staging a showdown with Democrats over funding bills that must pass before the Sept. 30 deadline, raising fears of a government shutdown.
“We shouldn’t fear a government shutdown,” said Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus. Anyway, most of what we do here is bad.
In Tuesday’s Committee on Rules, the House could consider contentious amendments on abortion, marijuana, transgender rights, diversity training, migration and critical race theory in funding legislation for military veterans and agriculture.
The White House said Biden would veto both Republican-led bills if introduced to him, criticizing House Republicans for violating the recent budget deal and «wasting time on partisan bills.»
«The bills…include numerous new provisions of partisan politics with devastating consequences, including impairing access to reproductive health care, threatening the health and safety of [LGBTQ] Americans, jeopardizing marriage equality, hindering critical initiatives on climate change, and preventing the Administration from promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion,» the White House budget office said in a statement.
As the House military and veterans funding bill heads to the Rules Committee on Tuesday, the normally bipartisan measure is about to turn into a pitched battle, with nearly 100 amendments tabled, that Republican leaders will have to sort out.
Democrats are introducing their own amendments, seeking to remove parts of the bill that include abortion restrictions, while Republicans have offered amendments to make anti-abortion language more aggressive. One from Rep. Andy Ogles, a Tennessee Republican, would remove exceptions that allow abortion funding, while another from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, would prohibit transfers of funds to another federal agency for abortion-related services.
Greene has also proposed amendments to cut NATO funding and give the Pentagon powers to police the southern and northern borders. Another proposal from Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., would prohibit funds from being used to enforce potential Covid-19 mask mandates. And Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., wants to ban marijuana testing for job applicants in states where it’s legal.
On Wednesday, a similar debate is about to take place in the Rules Committee on the FDA, rural development and agriculture funding bill, with a familiar set of culture war issues at stake.
McCarthy has promised to pass appropriations bills individually and not combine them into one, as Congress has done in recent years.
Meanwhile, the Senate is taking a bipartisan path and avoiding controversial provisions as it moves forward with appropriations bills, drawing objections from conservative House Republicans.
After this week, the House and Senate are scheduled for a month-long August recess, setting up a busy September.
«The current trajectory we’re on is unsustainable,» said Rep. Andy Ogles, a Tennessee Republican. «And we owe it to the American people to make cuts. Otherwise, like the Titanic, this will end in catastrophe.»