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House, Senate conservatives: GOP shouldn't give 'lame duck' Democrats power in funding bill

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Conservative Republicans in both chambers of Congress are calling on GOP colleagues to reject any government funding deal that could give Democrats the opportunity to pass a new budget before the end of the year, with 42 House Republicans and 14 Senate Republicans signing “Dear Colleague” letters.

The Monday letters come as Congress has 10 days to take action before government funding runs out at the end of the fiscal year after Sept. 30. 

Congress is poised to extend government funding through a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government at current levels before then. But with the possibility of Republicans winning control of one or both chambers in the midterm elections, the conservatives say that the new deadline made by the continuing resolution should be after the start of the next Congress, when Republicans may have more leverage in setting new funding levels.

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“We must not accept anything short of a ‘clean’ Continuing Resolution (‘CR’) that contains no additional spending or extraneous policy riders,” said the Senate letter led by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). “At a minimum, any agreement on a clean CR must carry over into the beginning of the 118th Congress. Failure to stand strong against lame-duck spending and caving to the Democrats will likely worsen inflation, prolong the current economic recession, and advance policies contained in the Biden administration’s progressive wish-list.”

Those joining Lee on the letter included Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Those who signed the House letter, led by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and signed by 41 other House Republicans, pledged to vote against any congressional resolution that does not extend past the new year.

The letter asserted that the Biden administration is “empowering authoritarian bureaucrats at agencies like the IRS and FBI,” criticized its policies at the U.S.-Mexico border, and panned COVID-19 vaccination mandates for the U.S. military.

“As the September 30th federal funding deadline approaches, Republicans must do what is necessary to ensure that not one additional penny will go toward this administration’s radical, inflationary agenda. Any legislation that sets the stage for a ‘lame duck’ fight on government funding gives Democrats one final opportunity to pass that agenda,” the House letter said. “Therefore, we, the undersigned, will oppose any continuing resolution that expires prior to the first day of the 118th Congress, or any appropriations package put forward in the remaining months of this Democrat-led Congress.”

The conservative House Freedom Caucus previously took a formal position against any continuing resolution that did not extend current funding until after the start of the 118th Congress next year, and to prepare new appropriations that reduce federal spending to levels before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roy’s letter includes a number of House Freedom Caucus members, but also those who are not in the caucus. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) is the current chair of the Republican Study Committee, the largest conservative caucus in the House, while Reps. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) and Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) have said they are running to replace Banks as RSC chair.

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