House Republican leaders on Tuesday told rank-and-file lawmakers they should support a short-term spending bill that will keep the government fully functioning until Dec. 22, rejecting a push by a faction of House conservatives to pass federal funding legislation that lasts until at least Dec. 30.
But Republicans assured conservatives they would agree to a two-bill approach that would give the House more time to think through a bigger bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.
Lawmakers would pass a short-term bill lasting until Dec. 22 and a second bill lasting until January. In the interim, the House would pass full fiscal 2018 spending for the Department of Defense.
Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., said he would propose two short-term bills that would fund the government until January. The legislation would include emergency money for states and territories damaged by recent hurricanes.
Byrne's plan would call for a second vote on a standalone bill to fully fund the fiscal 2018 defense budget.
On Monday, about two dozen conservatives held up an important tax reform vote in protest over the spending bill language. They demanded a promise that the legislation would not expire on Dec. 22, a date they said would give Democrats leverage because of the desire among lawmakers to give into their demands in order to escape the Capitol before Christmas.
But House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said his panel plans to mark up the rule for debating a two-week spending bill lasting until Dec. 22, not Dec. 30.
"The language that we put for the entire world to see is Dec. 22," Sessions said.
Sessions said conservatives and GOP leadership are still discussing the date but the leaders don't want to change the original two-week plan.
"The speaker stood in front of everyone and talked about the importance of that," Sessions said.
Ryan said following a closed-door meeting with Republicans on Tuesday he is confident the GOP will have enough votes to pass a short-term spending measure. But he would not say whether he is willing to change the Dec. 22 date to accommodate conservatives.
"We are having a good conversation with our members about timing and date and tactics and the rest," Ryan said. "You'll see [the date] when we bring the bill to the floor."
Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., said "everything is negotiable," on the spending bill. "Right now, the discussion was Dec. 22.