Editor’s note: This report has been updated to note that Rep. Andy Ogles represents Tennessee.
The fight over government funding will be top of mind for Congress when lawmakers return to Washington next month, as the Sept. 30 shutdown deadline looms over Capitol Hill.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told members last week that the House will likely have to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government running past that deadline, but the path to clearing such a measure is full of stumbling blocks.
Some Republicans are pushing for stronger border security, others want to see funding for the Justice Department slashed in response to former President Trump’s indictments, and conservatives are continuing their crusade for steeper spending cuts. There is also the question of funding for Ukraine, after the White House unveiled a supplemental request that includes $24 billion for Kyiv as its war against Russia drags on.
Lawmakers in the lower chamber will have just 12 legislative days to hash out their differences and come to a consensus when the chamber reconvenes next month, setting the scene for a mad-dash effort to fund the government and prevent a shutdown.
Here are the five House members to watch in the battle over government funding.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.)
Members of the House Freedom Caucus, led by Perry, have been at the center of the appropriations fight as they push for steeper spending cuts — and threaten trouble for McCarthy if they don’t get them.
The group notched a win when the House marked up its spending bills at fiscal 2022 levels, but many have expressed concerns that leadership is using a budgetary gimmick known as rescissions to increase the funding measures. In a letter to McCarthy last month, Perry and 20 other conservatives — many members of the Freedom Caucus — warned that they will vote against appropriations bills in line with levels set in the debt limit deal.
Freedom Caucus member Ben Cline (R-Va.) told Punchbowl News earlier this month that the group has had conversations over recess about strategy for the appropriations process. Those discussions, Cline said, have been convened by Perry and include talks about what measures they should concentrate on, how to secure the cuts they are seeking and how to rally support among other Republicans.
There is also the question of whether members of the Freedom Caucus would support a continuing resolution. Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) told Fox News Digital last week that Republicans should use support for a continuing resolution as leverage to advance GOP priorities. If that does not come to fruition, however, he said “I’m not certain that I would at this point” when asked if he would support a stopgap bill.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas)
Roy is spearheading an effort to beef up border security through the appropriations process, threatening to vote against any spending bills that fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unless efforts are made to secure the border.
In a dear colleague letter penned earlier this month, Roy and 14 other Texas Republicans said DHS should not be funded “until the necessary steps are taken to ensure the border.”
“No border security, no funding,” the letter reads.
Roy is also expressing skepticism about a potential continuing resolution as the length of such a measure remains an open question. McCarthy told members on a conference call last week that he does not want a stopgap bill to stretch so long that it pushes Congress against the winter holidays, according to sources on the call.
Roy wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, “Under no circumstances will I support a ‘continuing resolution’ to fund the government at the bloated, corrupt 2023 levels,” but he floated the idea of passing a series of 24-hour stopgap bills to keep the lights on as lawmakers hash out spending.
He said that strategy would “create maximum pain for Congress to do its damned job.”
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas)
Gonzales, whose district includes one-third of the U.S.-Mexico border and who has clashed with conservatives on immigration issues, is also speaking out about government funding as it relates to border security.
The moderate lawmaker — who did not sign Roy’s letter — wrote on X, “America demands a secure border,” before threatening to oppose any continuing resolution to the floor “that only kicks the can down the road.”
“Lock Congress in a room until we pass a conservative budget void of excess financial waste,” he added.
Two days before that — and shortly after the GOP member call where McCarthy floated a continuing resolution — Gonzales expressed pessimism about avoiding a shutdown.
“I just got off a member call – it’s clear President Biden and Speaker McCarthy want a government shutdown, so that’s what Congress will do after we return in September. Everyone should plan accordingly,” the Texas Republican said.
Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas)
Jackson is vowing to vote against any continuing resolution brought to the floor that does not slash funding for the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The Texas Republican levied the threat the day after a Georgia grand jury indicted Trump on charges tied to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. It was the fourth indictment brought against the former president this year — two of which have come from the federal level.
“I WILL NOT vote for any continuing resolution that doesn’t smash Biden’s DOJ into a million pieces. The DOJ has very rapidly become the enemy of the American people, and if nothing is done soon, our rights will be GONE. We MUST defund it!!” Jackson wrote on X.
Jackson is not the only one taking aim at the DOJ through the appropriations process.
Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) have introduced separate pieces of legislation to prohibit federal funding for special counsel Jack Smith, who is behind both federal indictments, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) vowed this month to utilize the Holman rule “to defund Jack Smith’s special counsel.”
The Holman rule allows lawmakers to propose amendments to appropriations bills that slash salaries for specific federal workers to $1, which effectively defunds them.
Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio)
A handful of Republicans — including Davidson — are speaking out against the White House’s request for additional aid to Ukraine, setting the stage for another House GOP debate over Washington’s support for Kyiv as its war against Russia continues.
The White House unveiled a $40 billion supplemental request earlier this month, which includes $24 billion for Ukraine. But Davidson and 11 other GOP House members are asking that Biden rescind his request, arguing that the funding violates the spending caps set in the debt limit deal the president struck with McCarthy.
“We ask that you withdraw your request for additional assistance until you provide Congress with a comprehensive strategy and mission for U.S. involvement in Ukraine,” the group wrote. “Without a defined mission, there is no way to develop clear objectives, allocate the proper resources, conduct rigorous oversight, or hold officials accountable for success or failure.”
The supplemental could also cause complications for the appropriations process.
Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the White House was requesting the supplemental “as part of a potential short-term continuing resolution for the first quarter of [fiscal 2024],” which Congress did last year.
Top lawmakers have not yet said how they plan to handle the supplemental — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) declined to discuss the course of action when asked on a call last week. But if it is attached to a continuing resolution, that could chip away at support among Republicans.
Bonus: House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)
With such a small GOP majority in the House, McCarthy can afford to lose only a handful of members on a continuing resolution if all Democrats vote against it.
That raises the question: Would Democrats help Republicans pass a stopgap bill to prevent a government shutdown, similar to what they did to help advance the debt limit bill to avoid an economic default?
Jeffries has not commented on the possibility of passing a continuing resolution since McCarthy floated the prospect. But if enough Republicans oppose the measure for various reasons, Jeffries may have to rally some Democratic troops to keep the government’s lights on past Sept. 30.
–Updated at 10:13 a.m.