Hard-line conservatives in the House sank a procedural vote on a Pentagon funding bill Tuesday, a significant setback for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Five Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the rule for the appropriations bill, bringing the final vote to 212-214 — short of the majority support needed.
The conservative opposition — Reps. Dan Bishop (N.C.), Ralph Norman (S.C.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Matt Rosendale (Mont.) and Ken Buck (Colo.) — prevents the House from debating the legislation on the floor and, subsequently, voting on whether to pass it.
The failed vote came hours after House GOP leadership pulled a procedural vote on the conference’s proposal for a short-term funding bill amid opposition from hard-line conservatives — another setback for McCarthy.
The House has less than two weeks to extend government funding past Sept. 30 or risk a shutdown.
Votes on rules — which govern debate for legislation — are typically routine, mundane matters, with the majority party supporting the effort and the minority party opposing it. It is exceedingly rare to see them voted down on the floor.
But Tuesday, a band of conservatives broke from that convention on the Pentagon appropriations bill as they demand steeper spending cuts as part of the appropriations process. They said their opposition stemmed from the fact that leadership has not yet presented him with the topline numbers across all 12 appropriations bills, which they have requested for months.
“For months, I have made it clear that in order for me to support the appropriations bills, we need to see the total value for all 12 bills. Leadership has yet to provide us with that number, which is why I voted against the rule this afternoon! Why are they keeping it a secret?” Rosendale wrote on X.
“We’re sitting here and they’re throwing one bill out that they plussed-up and they — we don’t even know what the top-line numbers for the entire package is,” Biggs told reporters following the vote. “And so they should be holding stuff back until we all know what, kind of what the top-line is and get those done.”
Bishop said he opposed the rule because the House GOP conference “continues not to have moved twelve appropriations bills at the spending level agreed to in January.”
“I assume leadership believes me now,” he added in a post on X.
The opposition from conservatives has prevented the House from making any progress since the chamber returned to Washington last week. Hardliners forced leadership to punt two votes on funding measures, and blocked the Pentagon appropriations bill from advancing.
The resistance is sparking frustration within the House GOP conference, especially from those who represent districts President Biden won in 2020 — areas where a shutdown would not play well with constituents. The inaction on the Pentagon appropriations bill has also prompted criticism from military veterans within the House GOP conference.
Members of those groups spoke to reporters on the steps of the Capitol following the vote.
“What we just saw with these five individuals was them adding, effectively, their name to that list that are enabling Chairman Xi right now, who’s looking at this with a sign of relief that we didn’t just get this DoD package to the floor,” Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.), a former Navy fighter pilot, told reporters following the vote on the rule for the Pentagon appropriations bill.
“I am disappointed, I am pissed off,” he added.
Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) said “there’s certainly a level of frustration with what some of our colleagues are doing in terms of how they are going about negotiating within the conference.”
“None of us support a shutdown,” he continued. “And, you know, for myself I said yesterday and I’ll say it again, I will not be party to it, and I will do everything I can to prevent one.”
House GOP leadership initially hoped to vote to advance the legislation a week ago, but punted that vote after conservatives pushing for deeper spending cuts said they would oppose the legislation — which would have likely tanked the effort.
Over the weekend, though, McCarthy vowed to bring the bill to the floor “win or lose, and show the American public who’s for the Department of Defense, who’s for our military, who’s for giving them a pay raise and who’s for making sure we can take the wokeism out.”
A GOP rule failed on the floor in June amid a conservative revolt over spending levels. Prior to that, it had been more than 20 years since a rule had failed on the floor.
Emily Brooks and Aris Folley contributed. Updated at 7:57 p.m.