According to multiple Republican congressmen in the meeting, the Trump administration is advocating for a continuing resolution through March.
The current spending bill runs through Dec. 9. The maneuver would give Republicans more leverage after the first of the year when President-elect Trump is sworn in and the Republicans have control of the House and the Senate as well.
It may help them expand military spending while making cuts to domestic programs. The original plan had been to try to pass as many appropriations bills as possible in the final weeks of the lame duck in an effort to not let legislators' work this year be for naught.
“The bottom line is that we must fulfill our constitutional duty to responsibly fund the federal government, and do right by the taxpayers who have elected us. To this end, my Committee will begin working immediately on a Continuing Resolution (CR) at the current rate of funding to extend the operations of our government through March 31, 2017," House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said in a statement. "While I’m disappointed that the Congress is not going to be able to complete our annual funding work this year, I am extremely hopeful that the new Congress and the new Administration will finish these bills."
In the meeting, Pence warned members that the months ahead would be far more rigorous than many members were used to as the Republican administration sought to carry out their priorities in the first 100 days.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) said Pence told the conference: "Advise your families that you need to be prepared for work."
"You're going to be working a lot more aggressively with a more aggressive schedule than perhaps we have seen in a long time," Meadows said Pence told the group.
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) told reporters Pence told the conference to "buckle up."
The most conservative wing of the Republican conference was especially pleased with the news that the Trump administration wanted a CR through March. Members of the Freedom Caucus had long been advocating for a CR, arguing it might give Republicans more of a chance to bargain. However, when it looked like Hillary Clinton was on track to win the election and Democrats might take the Senate, it was a riskier strategy. Now, it appears it will give Republicans the time and the space to work out their own vision for funding.
Punting the CR to March, however, also presents some risks for Republicans. As Pence outlined in the meeting Thursday, the Trump administration is hoping to move rapidly on a key priorities including repealing Obamacare and passing a major infrastructure bill. Both of those goals require a tremendous amount of work and political capital in their own right. Having to manage another spending bill early in the administration could distract from Trump's first agenda items."
According to members in the meeting, moderate Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) expressed concerns about the CR strategy.