House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is attempting to rally the House Republican conference to agree on spending and avoid a government shutdown as the deadline approaches. A deal brokered by members of the House Freedom Caucus and the House Main Street Caucus proposed to extend current funding through Oct. 31, but this sparked backlash from hardline Republicans who argue for more conservative policies and reduced spending. If the Republicans adopt a more fiscally conservative plan, it may not pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate, leading to a possible government shutdown.
Government Shutdown Deadline Looms Over House Republicans
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is struggling to unite his party as tensions rise within the House Republican conference over government spending. The party is torn between the House Freedom Caucus and the moderate House Main Street Caucus, who over the weekend formulated a GOP plan to prolong current funding through Oct. 31. This plan includes conservative-favored border security measures and spending cuts of 8.1% across all nondefense sectors, excluding the Department of Veterans Affairs and disaster relief.
However, the proposal has faced criticism from GOP hardliners who believe the Republicans are overspending and want to see more conservative policies included. During a private GOP conference on Tuesday, many expressed a desire to revise the spending levels to align more closely with those outlined during debt ceiling negotiations. This created a need to reevaluate top-line spending levels and resulted in a procedural vote on the interim government funding bill being withdrawn.
If Congress doesn’t pass funding by October 1, the government will shut down, impacting pay for active duty military families and veterans. Many of these families, earning below $30,000 annually and relying on programs like WIC, will face hardships. The shutdown would halt essential services like on-base childcare and some medical insurance payments. While there’s bipartisan agreement on the funding, a group of 7 GOP Congresspeople is obstructing the vote, even threatening the Speaker’s position.
Tensions Rise as Shutdown Deadline Draws Near
As a result, GOP lawmakers, including Oklahoma Republican Rep. Kevin Hern, met to discuss a plan to cut spending to $1.471 trillion. Rep. Nancy Mace revealed that at least a dozen holdouts attended the meeting after the procedural rules vote was pulled. If the GOP chooses to adopt this more fiscally conservative spending plan, it could trigger a political clash with the Democratic-controlled Senate, with less than two weeks before the Sept. 30 deadline to avoid a shutdown.
House Republicans experienced another setback when five conservatives and all Democrats rejected a procedural vote on a Pentagon funding bill. Those opposing the bill demanded more significant spending cuts as part of the appropriations process.
Key Negotiators in the Spending Fight
McCarthy, who has been Speaker for eight months, is under intense pressure. He can only afford to lose four Republican votes, but at least a dozen conservatives have indicated they would vote against the proposed CR measure. McCarthy remains committed to preventing a government shutdown, stating, “We’re going to be rational, responsible, and reasonable.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a vocal critic of McCarthy, has vowed not to vote for a continuing resolution, advocating for single-subject spending bills instead. He believes the GOP spending plan is unsustainable and an insult to the principles they fought for.
Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, a Freedom Caucus member, played a significant role in creating the CR spending plan. He criticized those opposing the deal, including Gaetz, during Tuesday’s GOP press conference.
Rep. Byron Donalds, another Freedom Caucus member, is also deeply involved in the GOP’s internal conflict. He urged Gaetz to be transparent about his plan, highlighting the complexity of the debate within the Republican caucus.
Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene expressed her desire to ensure that the CR funds would not be used to provide financial or military assistance to Ukraine, a new FBI headquarters, or COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Finally, freshman Rep. Mike Lawler of New York has emerged as a vocal critic of the conservative spending demands, considering working with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown, further illustrating the growing divide within the Republican Party.
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