House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Wednesday that the House will vote on a defense spending measure that failed earlier this week, and promised that he has flipped two of Republican holdout votes after a closed-door meeting.
Mr. McCarthy said House Republicans had made “tremendous progress” toward advancing spending measures. So far, the lower chamber has only advanced one of a dozen spending bills needed to fund the government in fiscal 2024, which begins Oct. 1.
Conservative lawmakers are also progressing toward a stopgap spending measure to keep the government open beyond the Sept. 30 deadline that they can mostly agree upon. But the Democrat-controlled Senate is still unlikely to approve the House GOP proposal.
Mr. McCarthy, California Republican, pitched a plan for a continuing resolution during the meeting that would set topline federal spending at $1.471 trillion for the 30-day duration of the measure, include the House’s marquee border bill and launch a debt commission. It would keep the government open beyond the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30.
Holdout conservatives from the House Freedom Caucus have pushed the top House Republican to drop spending to the $1.471 trillion mark to earn their support for the dozen federal spending measures needed to fund the government in 2024.
That mark was also necessary to earn their support for the stopgap spending measure, along with inclusion of the House’s signature border legislation, the Secure the Border Act. Whether the latest pitch has earned the support of all 18 holdouts is unclear, but Mr. McCarthy seemed confident nonetheless.
“We’re very close there and I feel like we just got a little more movement to go there,” Mr. McCarthy said.
Rep. Steve Womack, Arkansas Republican, said the measure would keep most of the Secure the Border Act, save for the key E-verify provision. Despite finding a plan that seemingly works for the majority of the conference, Mr. Womack said that a stopgap measure was a hard pill to swallow.
“I think the case has already been made that a [stopgap spending measure], that is just a horrible outcome for us,” Mr. Womack said. “It’s a horrible outcome for America, it’s a bad deal.”
Mr. McCarthy’s pitch comes as the House has struggled to advance spending measures, faltering earlier this week on a layup procedural vote for the defense appropriations bill. Because there are 11 days before the deadline to fund the government, a stopgap spending measure is all but a forgone conclusion.
Rep. Greg Murphy, North Carolina Republican, lauded the speaker’s efforts to unify the conference.
“I think Kevin’s done an excellent job of providing an overall vision. It’s not us against us. It’s us against the administration that wants to actually destroy the country,” Mr. Murphy said.
Mr. McCarthy’s plan builds off of a previous proposal from members of the moderate Republican Main Street Caucus and Freedom Caucus, but goes further to include an outlook for overall spending levels for the upcoming fiscal year. Rep. Doug Lamborn, Colorado Republican, confirmed that those levels would be at $1.526 trillion.
Mr. Lamborn said a debt commission, which could come with the stopgap spending measure, had no specific timeline, meaning it could be launched in a “year or two weeks.”
Earlier in the day, Mr. McCarthy pledged to not quit on pressing his conference to avoid a government shutdown.
“If Republicans hold Republicans back from moving bills, it’s like you’re walking into a fight losing and I’ve never understood that situation,” Mr. McCarthy said. “So I want to be able to win these battles.”