House Republicans stall on continuing resolution amid party strife

capitol dome and bills

House Republicans released the details of a continuing resolution to fund the government thorough Dec. 15 at a level slightly below current spending under sequestration. However, the measure was pulled from the House schedule late on Sept. 11 due to disagreements among Republicans over how best to challenge the president on health care reform.

The CR includes a provision to allow the Commerce Department the flexibility to fund the planned launches of the Joint Polar Satellite System and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite system. Delays to these programs could extend an anticipated gap in polar-orbiting weather satellite coverage. The Department of Homeland Security can shift money if necessary to keep Customs and Border Protections staffed at current levels, and the Forest Service gets additional flexibility to pay for wildfire suppression. The Veterans Administration receives additional funds for processing disability claims under the measure.

The current CR funding the government expires Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2013.

Despite the urgency, passing the measure might not be an easy lift for the House leadership. Faced with pressure from some conservatives to defund the 2010 health care law before open enrollment begins Oct. 1, the leadership has devised a separate resolution to do just that. "We will send to the Senate the provision which says up or down, are you for defunding ObamaCare or not," Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters Sept. 10.

The provision stands zero chance of passing the Democratic-led Senate, which can act on the continuing resolution separately. The transparently gimmicky nature of the maneuver has enraged some on the right – Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz called it "procedural chicanery --  and a remote possibility exists that Republican defectors could join Democrats in voting no to defeat the rule for the CR, sending leadership back to the drawing board. The conservative Club for Growth is among those urging a no vote.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) defended the leadership strategy. "I don't want to see a shutdown of the government. And I don't think anyone believes that the president would sign a bill that defunds ObamaCare," he said.

Once a CR is enacted, Congress will next be faced with the prospect of raising the debt ceiling. According to a recent analysis of federal finances from the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Treasury could hit the debt limit as soon as Oct. 18. GOP leaders would prefer to have a showdown over the health care law at that point, and have proposed tying a one-year delay in implementation to any debt limit increase.

This story was updated on the evening of Sept. 11 to reflect House Republican leadership's decision to delay a vote.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

  • Comment
    Pilot Class. The author and Barbie Flowers are first row third and second from right, respectively.

    How VA is disrupting tech delivery

    A former Digital Service specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs explains efforts to transition government from a legacy "project" approach to a more user-centered "product" method.

  • Cloud
    cloud migration

    DHS cloud push comes with complications

    A pressing data center closure schedule and an ensuing scramble to move applications means that some Homeland Security components might need more than one hop to get to the cloud.

Stay Connected


Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.