WASHINGTON — Four Texas Republicans voted against legislation Friday to keep the government funded, joining a group of far-right representatives to sink House Republicans' long-shot attempt to prevent a federal government shutdown this weekend.
The legislation could have kept the government open for another 30 days to allow Congress to finish passing appropriations legislation for the fiscal year that begins Sunday. It also would have slashed funding for a large share of federal programs by 30 percent and added border hardening measures that Republicans have long sought.
But far-right representatives said the legislation did not do enough for their priorities, including ramping up immigration enforcement at the border and gutting spending for Justice Department investigations into former President Donald Trump. Several members opposed any kind of temporary spending measure, preferring instead to pass yearlong appropriations bills.
"Today, I voted NO on a continuing resolution to repeat the failed fiscal policies we've seen in Washington for the past 30 years," Hunt said in a social media post shortly after the vote. "I will not vote to continue the money printer that has put America on a path to financial ruin."
The Texans were among 21 far-right Republicans who voted against the bill Friday. All Democrats also opposed the measure, which was rejected on a 198-232 vote.
Without the funding bill, the government appears set to shut down when the fiscal year ends this weekend. Though essential services such as Border Patrol and air traffic control will continue, thousands of federal workers will go without pay. Social Security and Medicare checks will largely continue to go out, but support offices for renewing eligibility will be closed.
Other Republicans were apoplectic about the move.
"21 Republicans sided with Democrats to kill the only conservative temporary government funding measure on the table," U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, said in a social media post. "Importantly, the bill included our Border Security bill. It was a hardline stance that focused our efforts on the border, and yet these 21 took it down. You can't justify this."
"Unfortunately, some Republicans sided with Democrats today NOT to fund government and secure our border," U.S. Rep. Monica De La Cruz, R-Edinburg, posted on social media. "Most of us come here to work, but some come here for other reasons."
Even if all House Republicans had rallied behind Friday's funding bill, it would have gone nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate. The bill included a series of poison pills for Democrats that Republicans included in the legislation, including resuming construction of a border wall, compelling asylum seekers to wait out their cases in Mexico and further penalizing migrants who overstay visas.
The Senate has coalesced on largely bipartisan terms around its own temporary measure that would keep the government funded until mid-November. The bill is still making its way through the Senate with the backing of Senate Republican leaders. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, however, opposes the Senate bill.
House Democrats have urged Republicans to allow a vote on the bipartisan Senate bill, but that could precipitate a challenge from the far right to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who has been open about his disdain toward the speaker, said he would force a vote to remove McCarthy if the speaker advanced the bipartisan option.
Democrats have been quick to blame a shutdown on Republicans, who have struggled to wrangle their ideologically diverse conference. Democrats have also warned that allowing the government to shut down could halt pay for Border Patrol personnel, hurting border security.
Border Patrol officers will be "working without a paycheck. They've still got mortgages, they've still got kids in school, they've still got families," said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo. "We don't know what's going to happen."
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/09/29/texas-republicans-government-shutdown-vote/. The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.