House GOP leaders Tuesday decided to hold tight for now on their plan to fund the government until Dec. 22, to the chagrin of fiscal hardliners pushing for a Dec. 30 deadline.
In a closed-door Republican Conference meeting, House Speaker Paul Ryan made the case for the pre-Christmas vote, according to lawmakers in the room.
Later Tuesday, though, Republicans said the bill would not be taken up by the Rules Committee until Wednesday, instead of Tuesday afternoon as previously planned. A floor vote now is not expected until Thursday, as whipping continues.
Government funding expires on Friday. House Republicans plan on a stopgap spending bill, though it’s still unclear if there will be the Democratic support needed in the Senate and a Thursday House vote will make the timeline for Senate action even tighter.
Ryan was careful not to stake an official position in the meeting, lawmakers said.
“I don’t think it’s final yet but I think we’re headed in that direction,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Ark.) said about the Dec. 22 plan. “I think that’s the preferred position, but nothing’s final until you do it on the floor.”
Other House Republicans said they could move the bill without Democrats.
“Are we gonna be able to do this with 218 votes? I think it’s possible,” Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) said.
“No, I don’t think that we will need [Democrats],” Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), a former spending panel chief, told reporters.
The move comes after members of the House Freedom Caucus temporarily withheld support on a tax vote Monday night pushing for a Dec. 30 deadline. The conservative Republican Study Committee also agreed to back that later deadline. Ryan also met with members of the Republican Study Committee on Tuesday morning.
Fiscal hardliners have complained that a Dec. 22 deadline would cede too much leverage to Democrats in the days before Christmas.
John Bresnahan and Rachael Bade contributed to this report.