Today, House Republicans pushed through their stopgap measure in a 247–181 vote. The bill, H.R. 1363, quickly came under fire for demanding a series of non-budget related policy riders, including an anti-abortion policy restriction banning D.C. from using its own local funds for abortions and anti-environmental restrictions to limit the EPA from regulating green house gas emissions, on top of an extra $12 billion in cuts. “With an eye to protecting themselves politically” from blame, the GOP quickly redefined H.R. 1363 today as the “troop funding bill.”
Slate’s Dave Weigel noted that five minutes after the White House declared H.R. 1363 unacceptable, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) slammed President Obama for threatening to veto a bill to “ensure that our troops are paid.” Minutes later, Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) ripped Democrats for “girding to oppose a ‘troop-funding bill.’” Republican lawmakers quickly picked up the rallying cry. Reps. Mike Pence (R-IN) and Harold Rodgers (R-KY) called it “astonishing” and “inexplicable” that Obama would, as GOP shutdown architect Newt Gingrich put it, use the troops as “bargaining chips for budget negotiations.”
There’s only one problem with this talking point — it’s the opposite of true. Today, the House Democrats tried three times to pass a measure that would ensure the troops received pay. The Republicans overwhelmingly opposed every single “troop-funding” opportunity:
— Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) offered a motion to recommit that would ensure all military personnel received pay for the rest of the year. Only one Republican, Rep. Walter Jones (NC), voted with every Democrat to consider this amendment.
— House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), first by unanimous consent and then by amendment, offered an alternative budget measure that would provide a 1-week extension of the current budget agreement until April 15. The “clean” continuing resolution alternative includes funding for the military but omits the irrelevant policy riders the GOP attached to H.R. 1363. Republicans unanimously voted against consideration of the alternative.
What’s more, the Obama administration announced today that it “would support a short-term, clean Continuing Resolution” like the alternative Democrats offered. Thus, by voting against these measures, House Republicans are flatly refusing to support any “troop funding bill” unless their anti-abortion and anti-environmental riders get passed. Incidentally, Republicans have ensured that, unlike the troops, Members of Congress will still get paid. Last Friday, the House voted on a measure to stop their paychecks should the government shut down. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) was the only Republican to vote in favor.