Jul 27, 2023 - Politics & Policy

House starts August recess early despite looming shutdown deadlines

Steve Scalise and Kevin McCarthy on June 13. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The House is kick-starting its August recess early amid a feud within the GOP over language related to abortion that's attached to the food and agriculture spending bill.

Why it matters: This signals a rocky road ahead in passing all 12 spending bills ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline.

Driving the news: GOP leaders in the lower chamber opted to cancel scheduled votes on Friday as it became increasingly evident that the agriculture appropriations legislation didn't have the votes to pass.

  • “We’re still negotiating," House Majority Leader Steve Scalise told Axios.
  • "Obviously you’ve seen reports the Ag Approps bill is still in the works because we’ve got members on both sides that aren’t there yet," Scalise said.

Zoom in: Moderate Republicans say they won't vote for the bill if it includes a provision that would overturn a Biden administration rule allowing for the abortion pill mifepristone to be sent by mail and sold in pharmacies.

  • Conservatives — who have expressed concerns about spending levels in the bill — have heavily advocated for the language to remain in the bill.
  • But provisions related to social issues have made the path to passage of appropriations bills harder due to the lack 0f bipartisan support.
  • Some moderates have voiced frustrations with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for catering to the far-right flank of the party as he looks to keep the conference unified and hold onto his gavel.

The big picture: Passing all 12 appropriations bills was already a steep climb for House Republicans, with members telling Axios that they are bracing for a government shutdown in October.

  • The House passed its military construction appropriations package on Thursday, leaving 11 more to go when they are expected to return from recess on Sept. 12.
  • [W]e’ve got to get in the room, we’ll talk, we’re making great progress," McCarthy told Axios.
  • The Senate is taking a more bipartisan approach with higher spending levels, meaning any House-passed bills will face conference negotiation and a tough sell from GOP leadership to get final passage.
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