Conservative lawmakers are promising revenge against House GOP leaders and their rank-and-file colleagues after they were sidelined for a bipartisan deal to avoid a government shutdown this week.
The House of Representatives passed a short-term government spending bill known as a continuing resolution (CR) on Thursday to extend last year’s federal funding through early March, in order to give congressional negotiators enough time to set priorities for fiscal year 2024.
With dozens of Republicans having come out against another CR already and just a thin two-seat majority, House leaders bypassed a normally partisan procedural vote to bring the bill up under suspension of the rules, meaning it needed a two-thirds majority for passage.
'Once again, we passed a significant piece of legislation that keeps in place, with predominately Democrat votes, policies that were ran against and campaigned against,' House Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good, R-Va., told Fox News Digital after the vote.
'If you don't need our votes for the significant pieces of legislation that impact the country, that fund the government, and you're going to pass those with Democrat votes on suspension, then you shouldn't presume that you've got our votes for the meaningless messaging bills that are dead on arrival in the Senate.'
Hours before the vote, Good made a last-ditch appeal to Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., to put the bill through the House Rules Committee, so it could be attached to a border security bill — called H.R.2 — that’s backed by most Republicans but was called a nonstarter by Democrats.
The standoff would have almost certainly led to a government shutdown.
'If they don't want to shut down the border, then it's on them to shut down the government… the discussion is that if the speaker isn't going to take some of those reasonable, conservative asks, then why are we going to continue this charade?' Freedom Caucus member Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Mo., said.
'We need to discuss it as a whole, but the idea is… hold up bills until they decide that H.R.2 is the priority.'
GOP hardliners have weaponized the normally sleepy procedural votes that most bills go through, known as rule votes, several times during the 118th Congress.
Rule votes normally fall along partisan lines, with even lawmakers who object to the bill itself voting with their party to pass the rule. Prior to last year, one had not failed since 2002.
But they have been used more recently as a vehicle for House Republicans among Johnson’s right flank to protest House leadership decisions, usually with rule votes linked to bills that toe the GOP party line.
It has prompted speculation over whether House GOP leaders intend to pass their fiscal 2024 spending bills under suspension of the rules, further sidelining their rebellious faction.
'I hope he doesn’t. He doesn't need to do that. I mean, his base is conservatives and Speaker Johnson is a conservative,' Freedom Caucus member Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., said. 'But I don't like the suspension. I don't like using Democrats to pass bills.'
Asked whether he and other hardliners could stage more protest votes down the line in response, Norman said the Freedom Caucus would 'discuss that.'
'We urged Mike to put an amendment that ties H.R.2 minus e-Verify and let us vote on it,' Norman said. 'And he didn't want to do that.'
Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., another Freedom Caucus member, refused to say whether she would sink rule votes in exchange for the CR’s package.
When asked whether Johnson would face consequences, however, she said, 'There's always repercussions to everything we do. But the biggest thing to focus on is that the border is open. It is a disaster. It's hard to come up with the adequate terms to describe how ruinous it is to our country, and to future generations. The impact is incalculable.'
The new CR passed the House on Thursday evening 314 to 108. It nearly split the GOP in half, with 107 voting for it and 106 against.