House Republican leaders on Thursday postponed votes for a must-pass government funding bill and dismissed lawmakers to start a six-week recess, raising the risk of a government shutdown in September amid simmering internal conflicts over spending levels and hot-button social issues.
The move to punt the bill—which would fund the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration—sets up a new round of budget fights in September when lawmakers return to Washington with only 12 work days in the House that month. With budget disagreements unresolved despite numerous rounds of amendments and heated discussions in July, lawmakers in the House are expected to leave the Hill on Thursday evening and return on Sept. 12 to a lengthy to-do list that includes passing 11 of the 12 annual appropriations bills.
The decision to adjourn with just a single passage vote on the annual spending bills marks a significant setback for GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who had hoped his party would pass as many annual appropriations bills as possible before leaving for recess. But a push by conservatives to pressure GOP leaders to further slash the funding levels for various government agencies and include a provision in the agriculture and FDA bill that would limit access to an abortion pill have upended those plans.
“We should use a government shutdown as a leverage point if necessary,” Rep. Bob Good, a Virginia Republican, said this week. “Most of what we do up here is bad anyway.”
House conservatives have pressured Republican leaders to make deeper cuts and attach language to the funding bills on abortion, transgender care, and other social issues that Democrats and some moderate Republicans oppose, including a provision that would nullify a Biden Administration rule allowing the abortion pill mifepristone to be sold in retail pharmacies and by mail with prescriptions from a certified health care provider. Moderate Republicans had voiced their opposition to the abortion provision, warning that they will not support the agriculture and FDA bill unless it is stripped.
“I have said from the very beginning that I would not support legislation that would ban abortion nationwide,” Rep. Mike Lawler, a New York Republican, said Wednesday. “And to me, some of these issues that are being dealt with should be dealt with at the state level, and that’s it. Some states allow it to be mailed, some states don’t. But that should be a decision with the states and the FDA.”
Heading into recess, the abortion pill provision remains a main point of contention. McCarthy can only afford to lose a handful of Republicans and still clear the funding bill, but didn't specify when asked by reporters whether he would take out the abortion language: “Regardless of how you feel on this position, you shouldn’t use taxpayer money [for that],” he said at a press conference on Thursday.
These were all debates McCarthy had hoped to resolve over the summer. The impasse highlights how little time Republicans have to reconcile their differences before a government shutdown, during which some parts of the government stop working at full capacity as it did in 2013 and twice in 2018. A shutdown, which could come as soon as Sept. 30, would also mean hundreds of thousands of government employees in the affected agencies would go unpaid.
House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark criticized Republicans for piling up spending bill votes in September, arguing that lawmakers should stay in Washington to strip out the "divisive" measures in the bills and make more progress before recess. “We have one bill out of 12 completed because extremists are holding your conference hostage,” Clark said on the House floor. “This is a reckless march to a MAGA shutdown.”
Original Story HERE.