Key Freedom Caucus member predicts House GOP will fall short of government funding goals

A prominent member of the House Freedom Caucus is predicting that his Republican colleagues will wind up having to swallow a massive ‘omnibus’ spending bill to fund the government in fiscal year 2024.

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., an outgoing House lawmaker who has served since 2015, said the House GOP will likely fall short of its goal to pass 12 individual appropriations bills to fund the government, citing the pervasive fractures within the conference.

‘I don’t think that we have the votes in the House to either adopt conservative policies because the moderates will vote against it, or the spending levels that the moderates want, because the conservatives will vote against it,’ Buck told Fox News Digital.

‘So we’re still stuck, and the leadership needs — and I think they’ve shown this a few times now — needs Democrat votes to get spending bills passed, and that’s going to require either a couple of minibuses or an omnibus at some point next year.’

Buck was one of eight House Republicans who voted to oust ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., over his handling of the government funding debate. 

Asked whether Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., is doing better, Buck argued that Johnson’s recently passed continuing resolution (CR) — which extends last year’s government funding levels for a short time — is still at a lower topline number than that set by the bipartisan Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) deal struck by McCarthy and President Biden.

‘The clean CR is at a lower level than the FRA numbers. So in my mind, you know, if we end up with a CR for 2024, it’s not ideal, but it’s a better number than if we had the deal that McCarthy cooked,’ Buck said.

‘I’ve heard some members talk about, you know, ‘This will be the third strike’ or whatever. I just think that Kevin had a long history with people that came to a head. Mike is doing the right things, trying to keep government open, and working with the numbers the best he can, and I think people understand that he is acting with good intentions,’ he explained when asked if Johnson’s job would be in peril if he similarly dissatisfied GOP lawmakers.

Current government funding runs out on two deadlines, thanks to a two-tiered stopgap funding bill passed by Congress last month. Appropriations bills concerning military construction and Veterans Affairs; Agriculture; Energy and Water; Transportation; and Housing and Urban Development have to be dealt with by Jan. 19, while the remaining eight appropriations bills must be worked out by Feb. 2. 

‘I think it’s better than jamming us on Christmas Day with bills that, you know, have to get passed. So I think it’s a more rational time frame,’ Buck said. ‘But I still don’t think we have the votes to pass the kind of numbers that we want, with the kind of policies that we want.’

Fox News Digital has reached out to Johnson’s office for comment.

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