House conservatives and defense hawks are demanding more military funding and a vote on a tough border security bill in exchange for their help in passing a short-term spending bill later this week, amid rising worries that Congress is headed toward a partial government after Friday.
House Republicans released a stopgap bill Tuesday night that would provide government funding until Feb. 16. The bill faces resistance, however, from Republicans who are reluctant to pass what would be a fourth temporary spending bill for fiscal 2018. They also want more leverage on an immigration deal to ensure it includes strong border security.
But that opposition is increasing the chances of a shutdown, since Democrats won't help the GOP pass a bill that they also oppose. The most recent temporary funding measure expires on Friday.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus, which is made up of about three dozen conservative lawmakers, are seeking a vote this week on an immigration reform bill authored by Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Raul Labrador, R-Idaho. The legislation includes many provisions aimed at reducing the flow of illegal immigration, and it also provides protection from deportation for so-called Dreamers who came to the U.S. illegally as children.
Other House Republicans want the stopgap spending legislation to include more money for the military, which they say has been badly shortchanged under years of budget reductions and temporary spending measures.
“Strong commitment on the Goodlatte bill, moving them parallel,” Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., said when asked what HFC members need in exchange for their vote.
Republican leaders have made no public offers to change the bill to appease defense hawks, and have been silent about whether they would bring up the Goodlatte bill. Even if that bill passed the House, it would almost certainly face a filibuster in the Senate.
Republicans are pressuring Democrats to vote for the stopgap bill, and point to the inclusion of a six-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program as a reason why they should. But House and Senate Democrats are poised to vote against it.
In the Senate, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the stopgap bill “a loser” and said it lacked key funding priorities, such as extra money to help battle the opioid addiction epidemic.
Schumer said there is “broad” opposition among Senate Democrats, although only nine Democrats would be needed to stop a filibuster if all GOP members vote for it.
More and more lawmakers, meanwhile, are demanding a deal on the Dreamers in exchange for their vote for the funding bill. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-N.C., said Wednesday he will not vote for the bill unless a deal on the Dreamers is achieved this week.
Graham, along with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and several other senators, plans to introduce a bipartisan immigration reform bill on Wednesday that President Trump has already rejected because he does not believe the border security and other reform provisions are strong enough.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the only bill he will bring to the floor when it comes to a deal on Dreamers, will be one that President Trump will agree to sign.
“There are a lot of people on both sides of the aisle trying to get an outcome,” McConnell said. “I’m looking for something President Trump supports, and he has not yet indicated what measure he is willing to sign. As soon as we figure out what he is for, then I would be convinced that we would not be just spinning our wheels going with this issue on the floor but actually dealing with a bill that actually has a chance to become law and therefore solving the problem.”