House Republicans failed for the second time this week to pass a procedural hurdle for one of its 12 annual spending bills, a sign of the ongoing chaos over how to fund the government in the next fiscal year.
The Thursday vote failed 212-216, with five Republicans joining Democrats to tank the procedural bill, known as a rules vote. One GOP lawmaker voted “no” in a procedural maneuver to allow the legislation to be brought up again.
The five conservatives who tanked the bill are Reps. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Eli Crane, R-Ariz., and Matt Rosendale, R-Mont.
“The people back in my district, they’re tired of the way this town works. They understand there’s no appetite to quit spending money we don’t have. And they expect me to do whatever I can to stop it, and to change how we do business up here. And it’s not always the most comfortable thing in the world, but that’s why they sent a guy like me,” Crane told reporters after the vote.
A House vote on the rules for the defense spending bill also failed on Tuesday.
The failed vote is a blow to House GOP leaders including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has promised to pass 12 individual appropriations bills to fund the government rather than a large “omnibus” spending bill that Democrats passed when they controlled Congress last year.
It comes as the House Republican majority splinters over government funding and how to avoid a government shutdown, which would occur if no action is taken on spending by Sept. 30.
The failed vote also appeared unexpected after GOP lawmakers emerged from a closed-door conference meeting on Wednesday evening confident that they were making headway on a 30-day stopgap spending deal to avoid a shutdown and give themselves more time to cobble together their spending bills — only one of which has passed so far.
Two lawmakers who helped sink the defense spending rule vote the first time, Reps. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., and Ken Buck, R-Colo., changed their votes on Thursday morning after assurances on spending from McCarthy.
McCarthy indicated to reporters that he was caught by surprise by the vote’s failure, saying of Crane and Greene when asked if he knew they’d flip, “No, that wasn’t the impression they had given us.”
But Greene and Crane switched their votes to “no,” sending the House floor into chaos. At one point the procedural rule appeared to be narrowly prevailing, but despite the vote clock counting down to zero, several Democrats quickly ran into the chamber to reject the bill as their colleagues cheered.
When the vote was 213-213, Bishop, one of the GOP holdouts, was seen entering a conference room with lawmakers including Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and GOP Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn. But during that time Democrat Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., arrived late to cast the tie-breaking vote.
It’s not clear what the remainder of the House schedule will look like this week. Lawmakers had planned to vote on amendments to the defense spending bill this afternoon and were expected to vote on the bill itself Friday.