House Republicans fail to move defense spending bill

By Tony Bertuca / September 19, 2023 at 4:25 PM

The House voted 212-214 against beginning debate on the fiscal year 2024 defense spending bill, dealing another blow to Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who has seen his efforts to pass legislation frustrated by the far-right flank of his own party.

Five Republicans broke ranks in voting against a rule to begin consideration of the bill, a significant defeat for McCarthy, who had to pull the measure from the floor schedule last week amid concerns that it could not garner the 218 votes needed for passage. Republicans who opposed the procedural vote to begin debate on the defense spending bill today are demanding steeper cuts to federal spending elsewhere in the appropriations process.

House GOP appropriators held a press conference last week urging support for the bill, which has drawn a veto threat from the White House for its inclusion of "culture war" provisions related to abortion, diversity initiatives and climate change.

"What's happening is the military is being held hostage to these procedural votes, so that can't happen," Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, said on Friday. He restated his position today on X, formerly Twitter.

Meanwhile, the House GOP is divided by an intraparty fight over federal spending that has stalled legislation intended to avert a government shutdown on Oct. 1.

The five Republicans who voted against moving the defense spending bill are Reps. Matt Rosendale (R-MT), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Andy Biggs (R-AZ) Dan Bishop (R-NC) and Ken Buck (R-CO).

The House floor became raucous during the vote as House Democrats screamed for “regular order” while some Republicans crowded around Norman in a vain attempt to get him to change his vote and keep the defense bill from being voted down.

“You don’t have the votes,” one Democratic lawmaker screamed.