By Mike Lillis and Scott Wong – 09/10/14 01:02 PM EDT
House Democratic leaders are in wait-and-see mode Wednesday as they weigh their approach to a Republican proposal to prevent a government shutdown at the end of the month.
Unveiled Tuesday night, the GOP’s continuing resolution (CR) would fund the federal government at current levels through Dec. 11, but a number of conservatives are balking at both the timeline and a provision extending the charter of the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance the export of U.S. products.
Heritage Action, an influential conservative group, is urging lawmakers to oppose the CR over the Ex-Im provision.
If enough Republicans defect, Democratic votes would be crucial to the measure’s passage, which gives the party leverage in the debate.
Democratic leaders so far haven’t said whether they’ll urge their members to oppose the government-funding measure, but in recent days they’ve called for a five-year extension of the bank’s charter.
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) has predicted his measure will pass, but he faces a wild card in Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has suggested the Republicans use the must-pass CR to attach conservative amendments on immigration.
Cruz huddled Tuesday night with some House conservatives. Roll Call reported that the lawmakers meeting with Cruz want the CR to extend funding until March of next year, when they think Republicans will control the Senate.
Another moving piece surrounds the White House request for congressional authority to “to train and equip” Syrian rebels battling both the Syrian government and militants representing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Democrats want to include the language in the CR, but Republicans are reportedly opposed to that notion.
White House officials are scheduled to meet with leaders from both parties on that issue Wednesday afternoon.
Some Democrats said they believed their party would go along with reauthorizing the bank in the short-term.
“I think they’ll support kicking the can down the road,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the former Homeland Security Committee chairman, in an interview as he emerged from a Democratic conference meeting.
And Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he didn’t anticipate any hang-ups with the Ex-Im issue. “The Speaker has already made clear he supports an extension,” Durbin told The Hill.
Democrats said Republicans would be foolish to shut down the government and follow Cruz over the cliff again, he said.
“He is predictable, often inscrutable, determined and inspires his Tea Party members,” Durbin said. “If Sen. Cruz would like to remind America of his shutdown of the government eight weeks before the election, be my guest.”