McCarthy says US House Republicans to vote on defense spending bill Thursday

By David Morgan

(Reuters) -U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Republicans will try again to move forward on fiscal 2024 spending legislation on Thursday, with a procedural vote on a defense appropriations bill.

After a 2-1/2 hour closed-door meeting with members of his Republican majority, the California Republican also said lawmakers were “very close” to agreement on a short-term stopgap measure to avert a government shutdown on Sept. 30.

He said House Republicans would also begin advancing other full-scale appropriations bills.

“We’re going to be voting tomorrow,” McCarthy told reporters. “I think we made tremendous progress,” he added. “I think we’ve got a plan to move forward.”

His comments provided a rare sign of progress a day after House Republicans were unable to advance the defense bill and the short-term measure, known as a continuing resolution or “CR” due to Republican infighting.

The stalemate raised concerns about the ability of Congress to keep federal agencies afloat, when the 2024 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

The House and the Democratic-led Senate have barely a week and a half to pass a CR or long-term spending legislation that Democratic President Joe Biden can sign into law.

On Tuesday, opposition from five Republicans defeated a vote intended to open debate on a $886 billion defense spending bill.

Those five Republicans were hardliners who wanted assurances that fiscal 2024 appropriations will not exceed a 2022 top line of $1.47 trillion – $120 billion less than McCarthy and Biden agreed to in May.

McCarthy said on Wednesday he had been able to persuade two of the five to change their positions.

But discussions among Republicans have yet to reach a breakthrough on a proposed CR that would keep the government open until Oct 31 while cutting spending and imposing restrictions on U.S. immigration and border policy.

(Reporting by David Morgan, Kanishka Singh and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Lincoln Feast)