House GOP unveiling temporary spending bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans controlling the House will propose a short-term spending bill keeping the government open into December and providing $88 million to battle the Ebola outbreak, a top Republican said Tuesday.
The spending measure will also extend the authority of the Export-Import Bank to continue helping foreign buyers purchase U.S. exports until June 30, Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, told reporters. The upcoming Nov. 1 expiration of the bank's authority has caused divisions between main street Republicans eager to help American businesses and conservatives who consider it government interference in the marketplace.
GOP leaders have crafted the spending package to avoid a repeat of last year's politically damaging partial government shutdown.
The new budget year begins Oct. 1. The temporary spending bill would keep the government running until Dec. 11, Rogers said. That would buy time to negotiate a catchall, $1 trillion-plus spending bill after the November midterm elections.
There was no sign of any tea party uprising like there was last year when conservatives forced a standoff over implementing the new health care law that sparked a 16-day shutdown. Republicans absorbed the blame.
Earlier, Rogers had said there was no need for the bill to provide additional money to process and care for thousands of unaccompanied children coming into the U.S. to escape violence in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
"We've looked at that and I think there's sufficient funds," Rogers said. "If they're allowed some flexibility in moving monies around, they can handle it. So that's the way we hope to deal with it."
Rogers said the $88 million in the measure for Ebola would meet the Obama administration's request for the government's response to the deadly disease's outbreak in West Africa and to develop drugs and vaccines to combat it.
He did not go into further detail other than to say there was money for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's efforts to help contain the Ebola outbreak and for speeding the production of promising drugs to fight the deadly disease.
As part of its request, the White House had sought $30 million for agency epidemiologists and intelligence officers and other staff to trace the spread of the disease in Africa, boosting the number of workers from 100 to 150 or more.
The White House is also seeking to direct $2 billion in unspent funding for overseas military operations to address Ukraine, the situation in Iraq and other potential crises. Republicans appeared likely to block it.
A Rogers spokeswoman said the stopgap measure wouldn't be released until after a meeting Tuesday between President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders.
In a speech in May at the U.S. Military Academy, Obama called for a $5 billion counterterrorism fund, but the proposal drew resistance on Capitol Hill as the administration was unable to spell out how the money would be spent. Frustrated Democrats and Republicans pressed the administration for specifics.
On Monday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest revived the call for the $5 billion.
Obama also had called for $500 million to arm moderate rebels in Syria battling the forces of President Bashar Assad.
"It seems to me that Congress, to the extent we've been talking about this, has been criticizing the president for not doing enough," said Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. "So now, when he comes and asks for money to do something I would tend to think he would get it."
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a driving force behind last year's partial government shutdown, said Tuesday that he would like to attach a measure to the spending bill stopping Obama from taking executive action to curb deportations.
"I think we should use any and all means necessary to prevent the president from illegally granting amnesty," Cruz said at a news conference.
"That certainly, I think, would be appropriate to include" in the spending bill, Cruz said. "But I think we should use every — every — tool at our disposal."
Cruz made his statement in response to a question from a reporter, and it was plain that he doesn't want to spark a repeat of last year's shutdown. He's unlikely to get his vote.
And one House conservative who joined Cruz at the news conference said it wouldn't be a good idea to try to use the spending bill to force a showdown over immigration.
"We need to pass whatever funding to prevent a government shutdown, first and foremost," said Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala. "I don't think it's appropriate to risk a government shutdown."
Associated Press writer Erica Werner contributed to this report.