House GOP Moderates, Hardliners Broker Stop-Gap Spending Cut, Senate Likely to Reject

House GOP moderates and hardliners brokered a short-term spending framework to keep the government open, but its chances in the House were uncertain and likely ‘nil in the Senate.

Not all GOP hardliners were on board with the stopgap bill’s eight percent across-the-board cut to non-defense agencies like USDA, tougher border security and exclusion of Ukraine funds. That left its House fate far from certain and likely doomed it in the more bipartisan Democratic-run Senate, forcing tough negotiations, a Senate ultimatum, or a government shutdown.

Top House Ag Appropriations Democrat Sanford Bishop dismissed the original GOP Ag spending plan hardline Rules panel Republicans sidelined in July. Bishop says, “The majority is returning American agriculture back to the 2007 funding level. When you cut through all the recissions and the repurposing of funds, we end up with an allocation of $17.8 billion. This is $8 billion below the allocation for the FY ’23 bill, and 13 billion below the FY ’23 bill, when emergency funds are considered.”

Ag Appropriations chair Andy Harris repurposed 7.5 billion in unused funds from the Biden climate/health-related Inflation Reduction Act to boost the bill’s advertised price to over 25 billion. Harris says, “This bill supports critical Ag research and plant and animal health programs, it invests in rural communities, it expands access to broadband, and it provides nutrition assistance to those in need, and ensures that American consumers have a safe food and drug supply.”

But with an eight percent added cut to domestic agencies until the end of October, the broader stopgap faces a steep climb with a razor-thin House GOP majority and likely, no chance in the Senate, working on bipartisan spending bills, increasing the likelihood of a ‘shutdown showdown’ before the end of the month and the fiscal year.