The Republican plan to avoid a government shutdown is on the verge of failure
- GOP leadership introduced a bill on Tuesday to extend the deadline for a government shutdown until February 16.
- But the bill is facing blowback from Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate, and does not appear to have enough votes to pass.
- The deadline for a shutdown is the end of Friday.
The Republican bill designed to fund the government and avoid a shutdown on Friday is quickly unraveling less than 48 hours before the deadline.
GOP members in both the House and Senate are criticizing the leadership's plan to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that would keep the government open until February 16. The CR also includes a six-year extension of funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program.
In the House, the conservative House Freedom Caucus is holding out for changes to the CR, including immigration reform promises and an extension to the length of military funding beyond February.
So far, the leadership has not given in to these demands, and the roughly 30 members in the Freedom Caucus withholding their votes puts the House vote in danger.
A source close to the Freedom Caucus told Business Insider that "there are still not enough votes for Republicans to get to 218 in the House," the number needed to pass the bill.
Senate chances of passing the bill
In the Senate, the situation may be even more dire. Republicans already need at least 10 Democrats to vote for the CR to avoid a filibuster since Sen. John McCain has still not returned from Arizona where he was receiving treatment for a brain tumor.
Already, three GOP senators said they are against the bill. Sens. Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina announced they are planning to vote "no" on the bill in the House due to concerns over the CR's uncertainty as it pertains to military funding.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky also confirmed to Business Insider that he would vote "no" on the funding bill as constructed.
Additionally, according to Seung Min Kim at Politico, a spokesperson for Sen. Mike Lee seemed to leave the door open for a "no vote."
"Past performance is not a guarantee of future results but Sen. Lee has never voted for a CR," said Lee's spokesperson Conn Carroll.
When asked about Lee's vote, Carroll told Business Insider, "the quote speaks for itself."
Even Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the third-highest ranking GOP senator, said the current plan is in danger.
"I’m concerned that we, yeah, we may not have 60 votes in the Senate," Thune told Politico on Thursday.
Despite the possible implosion of the bill, the White House released a statement Thursday in support of the House's CR.
"The president supports the continuing resolution introduced in the House. Congress needs to do its job and provide full funding of our troops and military with a two-year budget caps deal," Raj Shah, deputy White House press secretary said in a statement. "However, as the deal is negotiated, the president wants to ensure our military and national security are funded. He will not let it be held hostage by Democrats."
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A possible Plan B
A possible lifeline to avoid a shutdown could come in the form of an even shorter-term CR, to give the leadership from both parties more time to work out a robust deal on funding, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and immigration.
GOP Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas said a CR lasting a few days could give negotiators enough time to settle the disagreements and come up with a bigger package.
"I don't know whether we're close to an agreement or far from agreement, but either way this makes sense to keep the government funded and require us to continue negotiations until we reach a conclusion," Moran told Business Insider.
Moran also expressed the need for a clear path forward from the White House as Trump has sent mixed signals on a variety of topics including immigration and CHIP.
"Presidential leadership is important in resolving all but especially big ones — this is a big issue," Moran said. "And clear direction from the White House has value."
During an interview alongside independent Sen. Angus King of Maine on CNN, Rounds also agreed that a CR that lasts a few days to come to a broader funding agreement would be acceptable.
"If they came to us and said, 'OK, we've got a deal, here are the terms, we need five days in order to do the paperwork,' I think both of us would go along with that," King said, with Rounds concurring.
Other Republicans are game for either option as long as the government does not shut down. If funding were to lapse, it would be the first shutdown with a disruption to government employees while one party controlled both Congress and the White House.
"I'm open to anything that actually gets us consensus on the CHIP program and a number of the other things that we're doing," Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina told Business Insider. "But I am absolutely not going to be a party to shutting down the government. It doesn't make sense. There's a lot of people at stake."
The official deadline to pass a bill is at midnight as Friday turns to Saturday.
- The Republican Party's own hardline conservatives could sidetrack their deal to avoid a government shutdown
- A 2nd GOP senator just came out against the Republican funding bill — raising the risk of a government shutdown
- Lindsey Graham is the first GOP senator to come out against the Republican bill to avoid a shutdown — throwing the fight into flux