Nearly half of House Republicans, 90 in total, voted to shut down the government in a bid to end support for Ukraine’s defense against Russia and to undermine Republican House Speaker McCarthy. If the shutdown had occurred, the military would have had to work without pay or benefits, impacting essential services provided by border patrol agents, TSA personnel, and intelligence community members, among others. In an unexpected turn, McCarthy turned to the House Democrats to keep the government running, with the bill being approved by a large bipartisan majority in the Senate and signed by President Biden.
Update 10/3/2023 –
Historic Vote: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy Ousted Amidst Republican Revolt
In a historic turn of events, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was removed from his leadership position on Tuesday. This unprecedented decision came as a result of a far-right revolt within the Republican party, triggered by McCarthy’s reliance on Democrats to secure funding and avert a government shutdown. The final vote, an astonishing 216-210, saw eight Republicans joining forces with Democrats to oust McCarthy, marking the first time in U.S. history that a House speaker was removed through a vote of no confidence. This dramatic development reshuffled the political landscape, leaving Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina as the newly appointed speaker pro tempore, according to the rules of the 118th Congress.
McCarthy’s removal, a departure from the norm that had been in place since 1910, left political analysts and experts puzzled and highlighted the challenges of governing in a deeply divided political climate. Despite the historical significance of this event, Democratic leadership members voted in favor of McCarthy’s removal, emphasizing their commitment to break away from what they saw as extremist tendencies within the Republican party.
House Republicans Attempt to Block Military Pay
In contrast to George Washington, who famously stayed in his frozen tent until all his men were properly housed, nearly half of the House Republicans, backed by Donald Trump, voted against the military’s pay while continuing to receive their own. Their aim was to shut down the government, thereby halting support for Ukraine’s defense against Russia, and causing embarrassment for Republican House Speaker McCarthy.
Congress’ Duty to Fund the Government
Congress has a Constitutional duty to set budgets and pass bills to fund the government. Fortunately, this year saw bipartisan support to fulfill this responsibility. Democrats in the House were instrumental in providing the majority of votes needed to pass a bill keeping the government running.
In contrast to previous government shutdowns, this year witnessed a significant display of bipartisan cooperation as a majority of Senators and Congress members united to fulfill their responsibilities. Ultimately, House Democrats delivered the essential majority votes to Republican Speaker McCarthy, ensuring the passage of a bill to sustain government operations.
Consequences of a Government Shutdown
Had the government shutdown occurred, our military personnel, required to report for duty regardless of pay, would have gone unpaid. This would have affected 1-in-4 active duty families who depend on supplemental food programs, and many military childcare facilities would have closed. Similarly, border patrol agents, TSA personnel, and members of our intelligence community would have had to work without pay.
Government Stays Running with Democrats’ Help
Surprisingly, McCarthy turned to the Democrats in the House to ensure the Armed Forces continued to receive pay and base childcare facilities stayed open. The House bill was approved by a large bipartisan majority in the Senate and signed by President Biden just hours before the shutdown deadline. Despite this,90 House Republicans and 9 of the 48 Republican Senators voted against military pay.
What Comes Next in Funding the Government?
The funding bill signed by President Biden ensures the federal government stays open through November. However, it lacks the promised funds for Ukraine’s defense against Russia. Both the House and Senate leaders have promised a vote on this funding will soon occur. Meanwhile, those Republicans who voted against government funding are seeking to remove McCarthy as Speaker. To secure his position as Speaker, McCarthy’s sole hope lies in garnering Democratic support. As a result, Rep. Matt Gaetz has spent the past week reaching out to Democrats while crafting a “motion to vacate.” This motion aims to oust McCarthy from the Speaker’s role should most House Members vote against him.
Potential for a Bipartisan House Speaker
Under usual circumstances, bipartisan majorities in Congress easily pass spending bills to keep the government operational. However, the narrow Republican House majority and Speaker McCarthy’s acceptance of specific rules posed a distinctive challenge.
The Speaker holds authority over the House’s agenda, and the new rules permitted McCarthy’s removal if he lost majority support. A government shutdown loomed as a few House Republicans (backed by Donald Trump) threatened a “motion to vacate” if McCarthy allowed a vote to keep the government running.
With McCarthy turning to Democrats for support, a removal vote is imminent. Unless he concedes significant terms to Democrats, his removal is likely. Without a Speaker, the House cannot function, and while Republicans could select a new Speaker, the divide between the MAGA wing and the rest of the party makes a cross-party Speaker selection more plausible.