Marjorie Taylor Greene leads revolt against agreement to avert a shutdown

‘We’ve wasted enough taxpayer dollars,’ Democrats say as a deadline on Friday looms

Eric Garcia
,Katie Hawkinson
Wednesday 20 March 2024 00:04 GMT
Lawmakers reach unofficial deal on government funding

Conservatives revolted as Congress came to a bipartisan agreement to avoid a government shutdown.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson announced on Tuesday that “an agreement has been reached” on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations and lawmakers have begun the drafting process.

This bill will mark the final step in the appropriations process and keep the government open through this fiscal year, set to end on 30 September, just weeks before the 2024 presidential election.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Kay Granger said she was optimistic about the vote.

“I could not be happier,” the Texas Republican who is retiring at the end of the year told The Independent. “I think we got it done.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, lawmakers have yet to release the text. It is expected any time, given Congress has until Friday at 11:59 pm to either approve the bill and avert a government shutdown or pass yet another continuing resolution to extend their deadline.

But Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a right-wing firebrand, told The Independent that Republicans were breaking the rules they claimed to value to pass the spending package.

“We're breaking all the rules,” she told The Independent. “Remember the precious rules of the Republican Conference?”

Ms Greene also criticised how the House was not even able to read the text of the legislation when Republicans had previously pushed for the ability to read bill text.

“Remember when we are all complaining ‘we can’t even read these thousands of pages before we have to vote on them,’” she said. “Well, we're now back to the house of hypocrites that I'm so sick and tired of.”

Representative Chip Roy of Texas, a hawk on immigration, told The Independent he did not like the fact the agreement came behind closed doors.

“The American people are getting $1 trillion of debt every 100 days because Republicans who say they’ll do something about it don’t do it,” he told The Independent. “The speaker’s making decisions that unfortunately are swamp decisions, not decisions for the people.”

But some Democrats told The Independent they are hopeful a final spending agreement could come soon.

“The White House has gotten very involved here and you can’t do a bill without DHS or we’ll still be on a continuing resolution,” Senator Chris Murphy told The Independent. “So, I’m hopeful.”

Meanwhile, Republicans continue to raise objections about the lack of enforcement on immigration, saying they want the Biden administration to be more stringent about crossings on the US-Mexico border.

“The problem is the policy and enforcement of policy. It’s not just a money issue,” Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas told The Independent. “So, I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve come up with but I remain concerned that the Biden administration is not committed to enforcing the law.”

This apparent agreement comes after a tumultuous series of events regarding an immigration deal earlier this year. The bill was negotiated by a bipartisan group of Senators — Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut — at the beginning of the year before it was torn to shreds by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

The bill would have, among other things, required the DHS to “shut down” the US-Mexico border when it records an average of 5,000 migrants crossing per day for a week and allow the DHS to hire more personnel to support border security.

While several lawmakers and even President Joe Biden urged Congress to pass the deal, it ultimately died — in large part due to Mr Johnson declaring it “dead on arrival” once it reached the Republican-controlled House floor, in large part due to pressure from GOP-aligned lawmakers to avoid compromising on the US-Mexico border.

Some Democrats criticized the bill as too harsh on immigration policy, while most members of the GOP called it not harsh enough.

Last month, the GOP led a successful effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a party-line vote. The articles of impeachment alleged that Mr Mayorkas engaged in a “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” by allowing the release of migrants awaiting legal proceedings and breached “public trust” when he told lawmakers the US-Mexico border was secure.

Meanwhile, Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, told The Independent she’s unsure of the bill’s timeline — and that immigration enforcement has long proved difficult for Congress to agree on.

“[Department of Homeland Security] has long been a challenge and it still remains so,” she said.

Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana, who faces a tough re-election, called on his fellow lawmakers to push the deal through as soon as possible and said that Congress has passed enough continuing resolutions.

“We’re not really known for doing the right thing, but maybe this time we will because I think it’s really important to get this done,” he told The Independent. “We’ve wasted enough taxpayer dollars with these CRs.”

The plan to pass full spending bills comes after Republicans have fought bitterly about spending bills. Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida filed a motion to oust then-speaker Kevin McCarthy after he passed a stopgap spending bill at the end of September to keep the government open.

That led to the House going three weeks without a speaker until Mr Johnson’s ascent. Despite his pledge not to govern by continuing resolution, he’s passed multiple continuing resolutions to avoid a shutdown.

Earlier this month, Congress passed six spending bills to fund many government agencies. Other spending bills that Congress must fund alongside Homeland Security include spending for financial services and the general government; the State Department; and the Department of Defense, among others.

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