House Republicans Fail to Pass Procedural Vote on Defense Appropriations Bill

The failed vote is the latest in a series of setback House Republicans have faced in finding agreement among themselves on 2024 spending levels.
House Republicans Fail to Pass Procedural Vote on Defense Appropriations Bill
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to reporters as he leaves a House Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 14, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Lawrence Wilson

Republicans failed to pass a procedural vote on the consideration of the defense appropriations bill, effectively blocking its consideration by the House.

The failed vote is the latest setback to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in his effort to keep the fractious Republican caucus together and complete the 2024 appropriations process.

The vote failed 212–214 with Reps. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), and Ken Buck (R-Colo.) opposing their Republican majority. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) initially voted against the rule but changed her vote to yes.

Mr. McCarthy had delayed the vote, originally scheduled for Sept. 13, in an unsuccessful effort to whip votes.

Earlier in the day, Mr. McCarthy appeared to question the aims of those opposing Republican spending initiatives in comments to reporters.

“If you’re not going to pass individual bills, you’re not going to pass a short-term CR that allows us to pass the individual bills to help the border get secure, if you don’t want to pass Homeland [Security appropriations], then what to do you want to do?” the speaker asked rhetorically.

“If you run for office, you should be willing to govern. And the thing I want to show the American public is that we can govern in a conservative manner and you can have a stronger country.”

After the vote, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) criticized Republican leaders for giving ground to the far-right wing of their party. “They keep on negotiating with their extreme right to go farther and farther in a direction that, quite frankly, will not be welcomed by Senate Democrats or Senate Republicans,” Mr. McGovern said. “This is a ridiculous game they’re playing.”

The setback may be an occasion to build consensus, according to Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.).  “We’ve got a four-seat majority, and we are all captured by a small number,” Mr. Bacon told reporters. Musing on the writings of James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton, Mr. Bacon said: “They talk about protecting the minority. In this case, it forces working across the aisle to get consensus. That’s what we should be doing to begin with.”

The bill funds all agencies and programs under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense and the intelligence community, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. For Fiscal Year 2024, the bill includes $826. billion in new discretionary spending, $286 million over the president’s budget request, and $28.71 billion over the previous year, an increase of 3.6 percent.

Among other provisions, the bill authorizes a 5.2 percent pay increase for service members, including a 30 percent increase on average for junior enlisted personnel.

Republicans’ failure to pass the defense appropriations rule was perplexing to former Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). “I can’t find rhyme nor reason to this,” he told The Epoch Times.

“What’s their problem with defending the nation?” he asked. “I don’t know of any real opposition to the bill.”

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) told The Epoch Times that, for at least one Republican holdout, opposition to the defense bill was not a protest against defense spending but against the total of all proposed discretionary spending, of which defense comprises more than half.

The Limit, Save, Grow Act, passed by House Republicans in April, set a cap on all discretionary spending at $1.471 trillion.

According to Mr. Burchett, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), who voted no on the rule, wants to ensure that that limit is adhered to across all 12 appropriations bills.

“Ralph is a very moral guy. And he’s made it pretty clear, he just wants a number,“ Mr. Burchett said, referring to the spending cap. ”That’s what he has for leverage.”

Asked how the appropriations process might move on from this point, Mr. Burchett said, “I would say get Ralph a number would be the next step.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) offered a different assessment.

“Republicans can’t govern. It’s hurting the American people. They’ve turned the gavel over to Marjorie Taylor Greene and extremists in their party, and we have chaos,” she told The Epoch Times.

Jackson Richman, Joseph Lord, and Ryusuke Abe contributed to this report.
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