House Republicans Consider Trying to Jam Senate on Spending Bill

The U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C., on Dec. 19. 

Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

House Republican leaders are discussing using Friday’s deadline for a must-pass government funding plan to force the Senate to accept a bill without measures to stabilize Obamacare insurance markets that are drawing objections from conservatives, according to a Republican aide.

In the scenario under discussion, House Republicans would pass their temporary spending measure, with full-year funding for defense and money for everything else through Jan. 19, on a party-line vote. This would depend on Republicans standing together to pass their bill, thereby removing any leverage for Democrats.

The bill would be sent to the Senate, which is expected to strip out the long-term defense spending and add two health insurance measures to get support from Democrats -- and fulfill a promise to GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine for her vote on the tax overhaul.

From this point, the House could agree to pass the Senate bill. Instead, House leaders may decide to amend the Senate bill to remove the health provisions, pass it again with just Republican support, and return it the Senate for another vote, said a senior GOP aide who asked not to be identified when discussing private strategy.

All of this must happen before Saturday, or lawmakers will need another stopgap measure -- even just for a few days -- that would force them to return to Washington after the Christmas holiday.

The current House bill includes the full defense appropriations bill for 2018, short-term funding until Jan. 19 for all other government functions, a House version of an insurance program for children, a health bill for veterans and $81 billion in supplemental funds for disaster relief.

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