A huge, $1 trillion funding bill for the federal government narrowly cleared a key procedural hurdle in the House on Thursday, as a bare majority of members voted in favor of a resolution allowing it to come up for a vote later today.
But the vote was incredibly close, and it indicated that many Republicans will likely vote against the final bill. That means there's no guarantee it will pass later today, especially since Democratic opposition to the bill seems to be growing, and many Republicans already oppose it over immigration.
The House called up a "rule" for the spending bill Thursday morning, and started the vote just before noon. Rules describe how long legislation will be debated, and what amendments may be considered, and because they're written by Republicans in the GOP-led Congress, they usually win unanimous or near-unanimous support from Republicans.
But this time, 16 Republicans voted against the rule, a sign that they will not support the final bill because of immigration. The vote was called after a longer debate and some last-minute vote switching to get a majority — it was losing by a few votes, but finally passed 214-212.
That's four votes short of the 218 votes required to pass a bill if everyone in the House votes.
Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.), who won't be returning next year, ended the drama after being convinced to switch his "no" vote to "yes" to let it pass, and the final vote was called as some members booed the result.
Republicans voting against the rule were Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Dave Brat (R-Va.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Paul Broun (Ga.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), Walter Jones (N.C.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Steve King (Iowa), Raul Labrador (N.M.), Tom Massie (Ky.), Bill Posey (Fla.), Matt Salmon (Ariz.), and Steve Stockman (Texas).
Just before the rule vote, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) predicted the bill would pass today, and blamed the Senate for failing to pass any spending bills this year, which is forcing Congress to do them all at once in one giant piece of legislation.
"There's not one of you in this room that doesn't understand that this is exactly the way I don't want to do business," Boehner said. "But when the Senate does nothing, they put us in this box and here we are."
Still, dozens of Republicans are known to oppose the bill because it doesn't include language defunding President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration. Wednesday night, the House Rules Committee ignored GOP requests to include that language, over fears its inclusion would only lead to the defeat of the bill in the Senate.
Rep. Brat, one of the many who supported adding that language, said 75 Republicans supported it, and yet were ignored by the Rules Committee.
"We had 75 members on board with our important amendment, and the will of the people was not heard" on @IngrahamAngle right now— Dave Brat VA 7th (@DaveBratVA7th) December 11, 2014
Aside from substance, Republicans have also complained about the process, which forced members to digest a 1,600-page bill that was only published late Tuesday night. Members of both parties and some outside groups said passing such a humungous bill so quickly violated the transparency pledge made by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Democrats oppose parts of the bill that would eliminate a rule from the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill that currently prevents banks from trading derivatives that are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission. That ban was imposed to avoid future taxpayer bailouts of these banks.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she opposes that language, and also opposes language allowing both parties to raise more private money for presidential nominating conventions. Several other Democrats raised that as a concern, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).