GOP Confident CR Will Pass, Coy on Vote Count

‘What if we have more than the votes we need? How about that’

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republican leaders continued Thursday to express confidence they’ll be able to pass a stopgap funding measure to keep the government open.

“We’re going to pass the CR,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said.

But do they have the votes?

“What if we have more than the votes we need? How about that,” the Louisiana Republican said.

At that moment, the House Rules Committee was concluding four hours of deliberations and reporting out a combined rule for the continuing resolution and a separate disaster supplemental. No amendments were made in order. Floor votes on the rule and both measures are expected Thursday afternoon.

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GOP leaders said they did not ask Rules, a panel controlled by Speaker Paul D. Ryan, to slow-walk their deliberations to buy time for them to secure the needed votes.

“No, not at all,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said. “Why are you calling them slow?”

“They have a lot of things that they like to debate in the Rules Committee, and they have hard work to do and they do a good job,” Scalise said.

Like Scalise, McCarthy predicted House Republicans will pass the CR. Democrats have said they will not help.

“I think we will get it all done today and we will be fine,” the California Republican said.

But do they have the votes?

“Read into what I’m telling you, we will get it done,” McCarthy said.

Republicans being able to pass a spending bill on their own “means we’re a majority, doesn’t it?” McCarthy said.

The majority leader accused Democrats of wanting to shut down the government and said they’re even whipping against the disaster supplemental.

“It would be amazing to me that Democrats ... would vote against the supplemental and the size of the supplemental, what it is,” he said of the $81 billion measure. “But inside that conference ... they’re asking Democrats to go home, vote against their own states because they want to play politics and then vote again. They think they have a better chance to shut the government down if they deny people from fires and hurricanes money?”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did not answer a shouted a question about whether Democrats would support the disaster supplemental as she exited her weekly press conference Thursday.

She stopped, shrugged and said, “That was the last question.”

Pelosi said Republicans came to Democrats for votes on the CR and Democrats responded that they should have been involved in the discussion for what was going in the bill.

“And what’s in this bill we have strong disagreements with,” she said, noting Democrats substantively have problems with how it treats veterans and how it deals with the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

House Democratic leaders are urging their caucus to vote against the disaster supplemental right now, according to a Democratic leadership aide. Any significant revisions to address shortcomings for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands may change that recommendation, the aide said.

Democrats voting against the supplemental could be problematic because several conservative Republicans had expressed opposition to the amount of spending the measure creates without any offsets. However, it doesn’t sound like GOP leaders are worried.

“We’re going to bring it to the floor and get it passed,” Scalise said.

Even if the disaster supplemental passes the House, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer suggested it’s not going to get through his chamber. He called the House bill “an unacceptable disaster supplemental, which still does not treat fairly California, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

The New York Democrat criticized Republicans for not including additional funds for Medicaid, drinking water and infrastructure in the disaster aid package. He was also critical of the bill not extending the earned income tax credit for Puerto Rico.

“Those things must be fixed before a disaster supplemental can move forward,” Schumer said. “Because of these inadequacies, the disaster supplemental may have to slip to next year.”

Kellie Mejdrich contributed to this report.

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