GOP Mulls “Minibus” Maneuver: Strategy Shift or Shutdown Savior?

House Republicans are shaking things up in Congress by considering a new approach to passing their crucial spending legislation. They’re thinking about smashing together a bunch of bills into packages, a total 180 from their previous stance that insisted each of the 12 funding bills must pass separately.

It’s a bit of a mystery how Congress plans to prevent a government shutdown next week, but a little birdie told the Washington Examiner that House GOP leaders are chatting about the idea of rounding up these bills into what they’re calling a “minibus.” And you best believe this has some Republicans, like Rep. Matt Gaetz from the sunshine state, feeling pretty ornery about it. He’s been hollering from the rooftops that each and every one of those spending bills has got to be voted on one by one!

Now, the Republicans have been throwing shade at the Democrats for years for their sneaky trick of packaging all the appropriations bills into one big legislative package – what they call an omnibus. Even former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy flapped his gums about putting an end to that maneuver when the Republicans took over the House last year. But lo and behold, it looks like they might have to eat their words and put together a bunch of these smaller “minibus” packages to steer clear of a partial government shutdown. The deadline? March 1, when four appropriations bills are set to expire: Agriculture; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; and Energy and Water.

The other eight bills are still good until March 8, so it gives those lawmakers a little extra breathing room to push through the legislation in both chambers.

But here’s the kicker: the House won’t be back until Wednesday, leaving them just three short work days to seal the deal before the funding for a bunch of government agencies dries up. If they can’t get it done by then, they’ll probably try to pass another stopgap bill to buy themselves a bit more time.

Now, the House Freedom Caucus, a posse of staunch Republicans, laid out a whole laundry list of stuff they want to see in these spending negotiations. They’re really nudging for that one-year stopgap spending bill if their demands aren’t met. Some of their big asks include cutting the Pentagon’s abortion policy, keeping funds away from gun registries and red-flag gun laws, and making sure the Biden administration doesn’t swipe parts of the southern border wall. They’re not messing around!

But hold your horses – Speaker Mike Johnson isn’t quite on board with all of that. His crew shot back at those demands, saying they’ve been chewing the fat with members, including the wheelers and dealers in charge of the money, about these appropriations for the last two months.

And just when you thought things couldn’t get any crazier, these hard-line Republicans are saying if they don’t get their way, the GOP should set their sights on a one-year temporary funding bill that would slap 1% budget cuts across the board and keep the government spending at the same levels.

Ya gotta admit, this puts the Republicans in a real pickle with the Democrats, who are already balking at the idea of a continuing resolution that would trigger budget cuts. It’s also putting the heat on Speaker Johnson to pick a side – either join forces with his Republican pals and push through a partisan spending bill that will likely hit a snag in the Senate, or team up with the Democrats and cruise through a bill that has a good shot at clearing both chambers in a jiffy.

Written by Staff Reports

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