After the news Thursday that the Trump administration wants Republican lawmakers to push through a stop-gap funding bill rather than work through appropriations bills at the end of this year, the House Republicans appeared happy to oblige.
Senate Republicans? There are some concerns.
In a closed-door Republican conference meeting Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced the Trump administration’s wish to do a short-term continuing resolution now and deal with further spending later. Members of the House Freedom Caucus, who had advocated for that approach all along, were pleased. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) began to make moves for that approach. But Republicans in the Senate were not entirely onboard.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said punting till March was a “mistake for the Trump administration.”
“I think continuing resolutions are really a lazy way to govern. We’ve done our work,” said Alexander. “We can finish our work by mid-December and I think it’s a mistake to wait. And I think it’s a mistake for the Trump administration because I think the President-elect should want to focus his attention ahead not clean up work from the Obama years.”
After all, Alexander said, there will be presidential cabinet officials to confirm, regulations to roll back and a Supreme Court justice to move through the Senate.
Senate Republicans worry that a short-term CR will need to be managed again in the Spring, when President-elect Trump will be in the midst of his first 100 days.
“My preference is to do it now, and the logic of, one of the reasons you want to do it now, is that you don’t get bogged down with it early next year,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO).
Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told Politico he, too, wanted to ensure that senators wouldn’t be dealing with spending during Trump’s early days.
“To do anything, as you know, in the Senate takes a lot of time. We’ve got a lot of stuff that we really want to get hopping on. It’ll be a very busy six months. If you have to stop and finish last year’s business in the middle of that, it’s challenging,” Thune said.
When asked if he supported the plan for a short-term CR through March 31, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said, “No, I do not.”
“I do not, I do not,” he repeated before saying it would have a “bad effect.”
McCain had been working with lawmakers on a defense authorization bill that laid out policy for the military, but would have less effect if members kept spending levels the same as they would be in a CR.
Later McCain told Roll Call that people pushing for the CR were “idiots.”
“They’re harming the military and will do great damage to the military and our ability to defend the nation,” McCain said. “That’s why they’re idiots.”
There is still a bit of mixed messaging going on. Some Republicans–including some in leadership–appear to be flexible.
“Whatever the House can pass, we’ll pass over here,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the GOP’s No. 2.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has kept his next move close to the vest.
“Discussions are also ongoing about how to fund the government and for how long, as I noted yesterday. I’ll have more to say on this issue as more details are available,” he said Thursday morning in a floor speech.