House conservatives block routine procedural vote in response to passage of spending bill with Dem support

November 17, 2023

With more support from Democrats than Republicans, the GOP-led House on Tuesday approved a short-term spending bill with no cuts or conservative policy amendments attached in order to avoid an impending partial government shutdown.

In what was described by some as a retaliatory move, a group of House conservatives responded on Wednesday by killing an otherwise routine procedural vote to move forward on a separate appropriations bill and other matters, according to The Hill.

The move led by members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus effectively halted all work in the House for the time being until after members have returned from the weeklong Thanksgiving holiday recess that was set to begin this weekend.

Routine procedural vote blocked

The Washington Examiner reported that the House was set to vote Wednesday on a procedural move to advance the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill along with a separate bill that would strengthen economic sanctions against the Islamist Iranian regime.

However, 19 House conservatives joined with all of their Democratic colleagues in opposition to the motion, which proved sufficient to block it from being passed and halted any further progress on those bills and other pending legislation.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), who led the conservative opposition to the procedural motion, explained that the effort was in direct response to what had occurred just a day earlier, when Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), with the help of Democrats, suspended the House rules and passed a "clean" stopgap funding bill to avoid a shutdown that included no spending cuts and no conservative policy amendments known as "riders."

Ironically, that is remarkably similar to what led House conservatives to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from that position in September, though it was decided that Johnson wouldn't face the same sort of punishment for working with Democrats -- at least, not yet -- and would be allowed the opportunity to reimplement the normal appropriations process that he has vowed to do.

No longer willing to "play a part in this failure theater"

Axios reported that the procedural vote Wednesday to move forward on the appropriations bill and Iranian sanctions bill needed only a simple majority to pass the House but fell short in a vote of 198-225, which included the 19 House conservatives, predominately from the House Freedom Caucus, joining with all House Democrats in opposition.

Rather than continue to fight following the blockage of the procedural motion, Republican House leadership simply adjourned earlier than planned for the Thanksgiving recess and sent most members home until after the holiday.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), the Freedom Caucus chair, told Axios that Wednesday's vote was "a response to our dissatisfaction and our unwillingness to comply and play a part in this failure theater."

He was echoed by Rep. Bob Good (R-VA), who told the outlet, "We support our speaker, we're behind him, the country needs him to be successful. We just disagree emphatically" on how the short-term funding bill had been handled with Democratic support and no spending cuts or conservative policy riders.

GOP moderates not happy with Freedom Caucus conservatives

USA Today reported that, of course, not all House Republicans were thrilled with the blockage of the procedural motion on Wednesday that effectively prevented the House from getting anything else accomplished ahead of the Thanksgiving break.

Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD), chair of the moderate GOP Main Street Caucus, said in a statement, "It’s never easy to get work done here," and noted critically, "It’s a lot harder when you have people who I think are prone to emotionally immature decisions."

He added in reference to the House Freedom Caucus, "This is retaliation. If something doesn’t go their way, they decide they want to blow something up. I guess this is today’s fatality."

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