Missed opportunity? House GOP says McConnell lost leverage over Biden by backing government funding bill

Funding bill earmarks money for White House priorities opposed by Republicans

House Republicans this week expressed frustration with Senate GOP leaders for agreeing to pass a bill to fund the federal government without insisting on the inclusion of key Republican priorities, and he said Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell ceded leverage over President Biden that could have been used more productively.

"To say that the Senate caved a little bit or a little early or whatever is an understatement," Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, told Fox News Digital.

Some House Republicans are upset that McConnell provided the votes earlier this week to break an initial filibuster on the funding measure. The Kentucky Republican and other GOP senators appear poised to vote for the bill Thursday, which will send the bill to the House and allow the Democratic majority to approve it Friday over GOP objections.

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Given the Senate’s 50-50 split between Republicans and Democrats, McConnell’s backing is decisive in averting a government shutdown.

Given the Senate’s 50-50 split between Republicans and Democrats, McConnell’s backing is decisive in averting a government shutdown. (Photo by Tom Brenner-Pool/Getty Images)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarth is actively whipping against the legislation that he says is a missed opportunity for Republicans, and has even given lawmakers an extensive memo detailing why the government funding bill should be opposed.

McCarthy argues the legislation does little to address GOP priorities like the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. "Democrats' open border policies have led to an unprecedented crisis, and they have no plan to secure the border," said McCarthy.

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House Republicans also say that by funding the government through December 16, the legislation gives Democrats extra time to write a year-long spending plan while they are still in control of Congress. GOP lawmakers worry they could be robbed of an opportunity to put their imprint on the federal budget if such a deal is struck in the lame duck session.

Rather than the mid-December deadline, McCarthy and House Republicans wanted the stop-gap to run until January when the new Congress takes office.

"A deal that vanquished poison pills and went to January would enhance the leverage of Republicans, who are expected to win the House majority, to dictate policy terms," said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. "Instead, what McConnell and others have done is to diminish that leverage."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wants the stop-gap bill to run out after the new Congress takes office next January. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wants the stop-gap bill to run out after the new Congress takes office next January.  (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

Given the Senate’s 50-50 split between Republicans and Democrats, McConnell’s backing is decisive in averting a government shutdown. For the spending bill to pass, at least 60-votes were needed to overcome the filibuster.

Earlier this week, McConnell lined up 22 Senate Republicans behind the government funding deal — 12 more than necessary. McConnell backed the stop-gap after garnering some concessions from both the White House and Senate Democrats.

First, President Biden dropped his request for the legislation to include $22 billion in additional coronavirus relief funding. Then, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, dropped his push to include an overhaul of oil and natural gas drilling that Republican leaders opposed.

"The path to keeping the government open and funded has been clear for weeks now," said McConnell. "The solution was always going to be a clean bipartisan [bill] negotiated by [the members of the Appropriations Committee], without any unrelated partisan language jammed in."

Budget hawks note that government funding bill earmarks money for White House priorities opposed by large portions of the GOP base.

Budget hawks note that government funding bill earmarks money for White House priorities opposed by large portions of the GOP base. (Photographer: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

McConnell's allies argue that shutting the government down is irresponsible, especially as the nation faces major challenges like 40-year-high inflation and a deadly hurricane that struck Florida this week.

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Budget hawks note, however, that the funding bill also earmarks money for White House priorities opposed by large portions of the GOP base. Specifically, the legislation includes $45 billion for the National Institutes of Health, $122 million for the World Health Organization, and millions more for diversity and equity programs.

Senate Republicans "just don't give a flying s--- about the people they allegedly represent," said Roy. "You can't go out and campaign against this crap and then try to facilitate it."