A wounded Paul RyanPaul RyanPaul Ryan sells out conservatives with healthcare surrender GOP lawmaker calls for select committee on Russia Matt Schlapp: 5 lessons Trump, Ryan must learn from healthcare debate MORE is facing another potential crisis over the next month.
The Speaker, who saw his years-long effort to repeal ObamaCare collapse last week after a rebellion on the right, must come up with a plan to fund the federal government and avert a shutdown.
The Wisconsin Republican will face many of the same tricky intraparty dynamics as he tries to keep the government running.
Funding expires in about a month, on April 28, but the House is taking a two-week recess in mid-April, leaving negotiators just a few legislative work weeks to reach a deal.
The stakes are extremely high for the GOP. A government shutdown, similar to the one orchestrated by Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzWhat are ‘religious liberty’ bills really about? Fiorina calls for special prosecutor for Russia probe Lee: Nuclear option justified after Dems used it in 2013 MORE (R-Texas) and his House allies in 2013, would confirm what many Democrats and political pundits are already saying: Republicans, despite controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, simply can’t govern.
Two of the biggest hurdles to keeping the government’s lights on are conservatives’ insistence that the spending package include billions for President Trump’s border wall and that it block all federal dollars for Planned Parenthood.
Trump has requested $1.5 billion in supplemental funding for what he’s called his “big, beautiful wall,” plus another $2.6 billion in his 2018 budget request.
But Senate Democrats have threatened to filibuster the must-pass spending bill if it includes money for a wall, sparking a shutdown standoff over one of the president’s chief campaign promises. On top of that, some Republicans from border states — including Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSenate Dems: Border wall is a budget ‘poison pill’ Senate braces for fallout over Supreme Court fight Former congressman indicted on conspiracy charges MORE (Texas), Armed Services Chairman John McCainJohn McCainGOP lawmaker calls for select committee on Russia ‘Morning Joe’ co-host: We got into Trump’s head Senate braces for fallout over Supreme Court fight MORE (Ariz.) and Sen. Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeWounded Ryan faces new battle Overnight Tech: High court hears case on where patent suits are filed | House to vote on blocking internet privacy rules | Facebook’s new tools for voters House to vote Tuesday on blocking Obama internet privacy rules MORE (Ariz.) — are highly skeptical of Trump’s wall, citing concerns about the price tag and private-property rights.
A trio of House Republicans who represent border districts — Reps. Martha McSally (Ariz.), Steve Pearce (N.M.) and Will Hurd (Texas) — also have been wary of Trump’s wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Speaker earlier this year called constructing the wall “urgent” and a national security necessity. But recognizing the high 60-vote threshold in the Senate, Ryan will be under enormous pressure to send over a House bill with zero or limited wall funding.
“The border wall should be talked about, shouldn’t be rammed down people’s throats,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSenate seen as starting point for Trump’s infrastructure plan Dems wait for GOP olive branch after ObamaCare debacle How Obama’s White House weaponized media against Trump MORE (D-N.Y.) said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
“It’s got a big problem that Republicans in border states are opposing — Texas, Arizona — because there’s eminent domain, so you have to take private land. … My prediction: It wouldn’t get the votes on either the Democratic or Republican side.”
The archconservative House Freedom Caucus scuttled the ObamaCare repeal legislation on Friday after Trump and Ryan refused to cave to the group’s demands. The defeat of the bill prompted an aggressive round of GOP finger-pointing.
Trump tweeted that the Freedom Caucus, along with conservative allies Club for Growth and Heritage Action, “saved Planned Parenthood and Ocare” since defunding the women’s health services provider had been included in the bill. Rep. Ted PoeTed PoeSecond GOP lawmaker mulls leaving Freedom Caucus Wounded Ryan faces new battle Can Trump rebound after failure on healthcare bill? MORE (R-Texas) resigned from the Freedom Caucus. “Saying no is easy. Leading is hard,” he said.
Meanwhile, Trump directed his Twitter followers to tune in to Jeanine Pirro’s show on Fox News shortly before the conservative host launched a broadside against Ryan, calling on him to resign as Speaker. Trump’s top aides said the president still has Ryan’s back and had no idea Pirro was going to rip the Speaker.
For now, calls for Ryan’s ouster don’t appear to be resonating with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who successfully forced then-Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerPaul Ryan sells out conservatives with healthcare surrender Matt Schlapp: 5 lessons Trump, Ryan must learn from healthcare debate Nunes rebuffs calls for recusal MORE (R-Ohio) into an early retirement in 2015, insisted there are “no conversations” about removing Ryan — a sentiment echoed by some of Meadows’s conservative colleagues.
“Paul Ryan did the best he could under the circumstances to bring together a variety of different viewpoints and backgrounds of 230-some-odd Republican congressmen,” Rep. Mo BrooksMo BrooksPaul Ryan sells out conservatives with healthcare surrender Freedom Caucus member tries to force ObamaCare repeal vote Wounded Ryan faces new battle MORE (R-Ala.) said last week as the health insurance effort crumbled.
“I think that Paul Ryan did a very good job as Speaker of the House, considering the difficulty of the issue and the variety of the opinions that are reflected in the Republican conference,” Brooks added.
The Freedom Caucus, which has about three dozen members, has not taken a formal position on Trump’s border wall. But the group has shown a willingness to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding, just as it threatened to do in a game of brinkmanship with BoehnerJohn BoehnerPaul Ryan sells out conservatives with healthcare surrender Matt Schlapp: 5 lessons Trump, Ryan must learn from healthcare debate Nunes rebuffs calls for recusal MORE in September 2015.
Rather than go along with the group’s demands, Boehner said he would resign the following month. Then he struck a two-year deal with then-President Obama that raised the debt limit and set higher spending levels — an agreement that was meant to “clean the barn” and make things easier for his successor, Ryan.
Now it’s Ryan’s turn to reach a funding deal.
With the spectacular failure of the ObamaCare repeal bill, the Freedom Caucus will almost certainly insist the funding bill include a provision to defund Planned Parenthood. But Ryan and GOP leaders, while supportive of that provision, also are keenly aware such a bill can’t pass the Senate.
Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong declined to comment on specific provisions that could be included in the funding bill. But White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday refused to say that Trump would demand the defunding provision be included in the funding bill, an apparent acknowledgement of the difficulty of passing it through the upper chamber.
“I don’t want to get ahead of our legislative strategy,” Spicer said.
One senior GOP appropriator said Monday that it’s time for the party to demonstrate it can handle the basic responsibilities of governing.
“To me, we ought to focus on things we know we can do and we have to do. We haven’t finished the ’17 appropriations bill. We’re halfway through the ’18 fiscal year. So, I mean, we need to get that done,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“We need to think about things like getting a realistic budget done, doing a debt ceiling vote, which I think will probably have to be bipartisan.”
Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), said his outside conservative group has not taken any positions on whether the border wall or Planned Parenthood defunding should be included in the spending bill.
Instead, he said AFP is urging Congress to return to a regular-order budget process that will help drive down spending.
“For a decade now, we’ve had a catch-all budget process, which is not healthy for the country and not healthy for restraining spending,” Phillips said in a phone interview.
“We need to get away from careening from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis. I don’t think anyone wants a shutdown,” he added. “We want to see Congress get back to a regular-order budget. That offers the best opportunity to regaining fiscal discipline.”
Cristina Marcos contributed.