Here Are the Four Things House GOP Leadership Wants to Get Done Before Recess

But will the rest of the House go along?

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 10: U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) answers questions during his weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol July 10, 2014 in Washington, DC. Boehner spoke on immigration issues facing the U.S. and other matters.
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Billy House
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Billy House
July 23, 2014, 5:32 p.m.

House GOP lead­ers are press­ing to com­plete a “Big Four” list of items be­fore the House’s sched­uled Au­gust-long ad­journ­ment next Thursday.

But loom­ing big is this ques­tion: Will their own rank-and-file mem­bers co­oper­ate?

Top­ping this cramped To Do list, seni­or aides said on Wed­nes­day, is a short-term spend­ing bill to keep gov­ern­ment fun­ded and op­er­at­ing at cur­rent levels bey­ond the Oct. 1 start of the new fisc­al year — when cur­rent fund­ing ex­pires — and likely well bey­ond Elec­tion Day.

First re­por­ted Monday by Na­tion­al Journ­al, the plan­ning for ac­tion next week on such a stop­gap con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion is seen by GOP lead­ers as a way to head off any talk over the break of a po­ten­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down — at least any talk that House Re­pub­lic­ans should be blamed if that hap­pens.

To date, the House has passed sev­en of the 12 an­nu­al ap­pro­pri­ations bills, while the Demo­crat­ic-led Sen­ate has passed none. And there is little ex­pect­a­tion that the two cham­bers will com­plete pas­sage of the bills on time.

Also, House lead­ers are hop­ing to hold a vote next week on the House GOP’s fund­ing and policy re­sponse to Pres­id­ent Obama’s sup­ple­ment­al re­quest for $3.7 bil­lion to deal with the in­flux of un­ac­com­pan­ied minors to the bor­der, but ac­know­ledge hurdles in its pas­sage.

There is “cau­tious op­tim­ism” that ne­go­ti­ations to re­con­cile House- and Sen­ate-passed ver­sions of a bill to re­form the em­battled Vet­er­ans Af­fairs De­part­ment can be com­pleted, and a vote on the deal can be held next week. But the con­fid­ence is not as high as the hope for this third item, with the costs of those re­forms and oth­er de­tails still be­ing hashed out by the con­fer­ence com­mit­tee.

A fourth item pre­vi­ously an­ti­cip­ated to be on the floor next week — but since pushed back — was ac­tion on a House ver­sion to reau­thor­ize the fed­er­al Ter­ror­ism Risk In­sur­ance Act.

But more cer­tain to hap­pen — round­ing out what the seni­or aides are call­ing the “Big Four” of items to be ad­dressed be­fore the break — is a House vote to form­ally au­thor­ize Speak­er John Boehner to launch a law­suit chal­len­ging Obama’s use of ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tions.

Des­pite these plans, aides said there re­mained on Wed­nes­day some un­cer­tainty for Boehner and oth­er House lead­ers re­gard­ing votes on a tem­por­ary gov­ern­ment fund­ing bill and a GOP bor­der plan, and even a VA re­form pack­age.

With there still be­ing 10 sched­uled le­gis­lat­ive days in Septem­ber be­fore the Oct. 1 start of the new fisc­al year, there is con­cern, but no cer­tainty, that most House Demo­crats would not go along with passing a con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion.

But there is also worry that few or no Demo­crat­ic votes — com­bined with the chance that some House con­ser­vat­ives won’t go along with a con­tinu­ation of ex­ist­ing levels be­cause they want more spend­ing cuts — could leave the CR without enough back­ing to pass.

This po­ten­ti­al­ity is be­ing con­tem­plated so quietly that spokes­men for Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee Chair­man Har­old Ro­gers and Ma­jor­ity Lead­er-elect Kev­in Mc­Carthy were in­sist­ing Wed­nes­day that there is no CR, and that none is be­ing planned.

But oth­er seni­or GOP aides said that is not the case — and that lead­ers still in­tend to put one on the floor for a vote next week.

“We’d be crazy not to do so, or all our mem­bers are go­ing to hear over the Au­gust break is talk of a pos­sib­il­ity of a gov­ern­ment shut­down,” said one seni­or aide.

Sim­il­arly, Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers are look­ing cau­tiously to pro­ceed­ing with floor ac­tion on the House’s bor­der plan be­fore mem­bers be­gin the re­cess.

They know that Demo­crat­ic votes will likely be needed to pass their pack­age, be­cause some of their own Re­pub­lic­an mem­bers op­pose even the $1.5 bil­lion cost of their plan — even though that is less than half of the spend­ing Obama pro­posed.

But they also know that many Demo­crats are op­posed to at least one ma­jor pro­posed policy change in the emer­ging GOP pack­age — its call to speed up de­port­a­tions from the pro­cess cur­rently in place un­der a 2008 law in­ten­ded to pro­tect chil­dren flee­ing vi­ol­ence.

Boehner un­der­scored all of this in a let­ter to Obama on Wed­nes­day, telling the pres­id­ent: “Frankly, it is dif­fi­cult to see how we can make pro­gress on this is­sue without strong, pub­lic sup­port from the White House for much-needed re­forms, in­clud­ing changes to the 2008 law.”

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