Ryan to Senate: Here's the CR -- take it or leave it

For once, House Republicans may get a chance to dictate terms to the Senate. Paul Ryan announced that a vote would take place on a “clean” continuing resolution that would provide stopgap authorization for spending over the next four weeks. “No games, no sneaky things,” Ryan told CNBC — but they don’t plan to stick around Washington long after voting on it today, either:


House Speaker Paul Ryan: The Democrats would love nothing more than a government shutdown from CNBC.

Facing a midnight Friday deadline, the House is expected to vote Thursday on a short-term spending bill to fund the government through Jan. 19. …

The continuing resolution is what’s known as “clean,” meaning that it does not contain any provisions that are so contentious as to threaten the bill’s eventual passage. The federal government officially runs out of funding at midnight Friday, making this a must-pass measure.

“We’re just bringing a clean, what we call vanilla CR — no games, no sneaky things. Just a continuing resolution to get us through this moment to get us into next year,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “It’s as clean and simple as possible.”

In fact, it’s so clean that the House plans to adjourn after its vote and leave Washington. That means the Senate will either have to pass it as is or let the government shut down over the Christmas holiday. While that puts pressure on Senate Democrats to play along, it also puts pressure on Senate Republicans to quit changing House bills and forcing the House to rubber-stamp it. A Politico report yesterday on stopgap-funding negotiations made it clear that resentment among Ryan’s rank and file has reached crisis proportions:


House Republicans have fumed for months to the speaker that the House seems subservient to the Senate.

“Right now, it feels like the House has no power,” Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio said in a recent interview. Fellow Freedom Caucus member Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania agreed in a short interview Tuesday evening: “I’m asking myself: What’s the point of being a member of Congress if all you do is wait for the Senate to tell you what they want and then say, ‘OK’? That’s our position right now.”

In practice, though, there may not be much of a showdown involved. First, we can assume that Ryan and McConnell have worked together to piece the CR together, although such assumptions turned out to be incorrect when it came to ObamaCare repeal and the tax reform bill. Second, the bill basically extends the current spending levels of government, which avoids the need for confrontation over the holidays. It kicks the can down the road for both parties.

Most importantly, it gives Democrats the opportunity to declare a win, albeit only rhetorically:

A short-term House spending bill to fund the government until Jan. 19 includes nearly $3 billion to tide over states running out of funds from the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The continuing resolution released early Thursday morning gives CHIP $2.85 billion in new funding through the end of March. It also includes $750 million in new money for community health centers and a special diabetes program that also are short on funds.

The short-term fix that House Republicans hope to pass today is not a long-term, multiyear reauthorization that some lawmakers had hoped. However, it does inject new funds for states that are running short. CHIP and community health center program funding expired on Sept. 30.


The House voted to authorize CHIP funding in the fall, passing a bill that would have extended funding for five years. It ended up stuck in the Senate as Democrats objected to the pay-fors in the bill:

The House passed a bill back in October that reauthorizes CHIP for five years and community health center funding for two years. However, that bill has languished in the Senate as Democrats have opposed funding offsets that include charging wealthy seniors higher Medicare premiums and taking from an Obamacare disease prevention fund.

Democrats can still claim a temporary victory on CHIP and get out of town tomorrow by voting for the bill. It’s likely to pass on that basis along with the continuity of the rest of the funding authorizations.

All that does is to push the drama out to mid-January. For right now, that’s probably enough. As the philosopher Hans Gruber once noted, “It’s Christmas, Theo. It’s the time of miracles, so be of good cheer.” I’m reliably informed that this was part of a Christmas movie, so it must be correct. Otherwise, House members will be flying back to Washington on Saturday.

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