McCarthy Defies Hardliners in Latest Bid to Avert Shutdown

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is defying hardliners in his own party and plans to hold a vote Saturday on a measure that would keep the US government open until Nov. 17 and include disaster funding but not aid for Ukraine.

(Bloomberg) — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is defying hardliners in his own party and plans to hold a vote Saturday on a measure that would keep the US government open until Nov. 17 and include disaster funding but not aid for Ukraine. 

The latest offering from McCarthy potentially decreases the risk of a shutdown just hours before a federal funding lapse at midnight. But it also threatens to provoke hardliner Matt Gaetz, McCarthy’s most ardent detractor, to move to oust the speaker. 

A Republican familiar with McCarthy’s thinking said the speaker’s move is intended to trigger Gaetz into either filing the motion to vacate or backing down. Once he’s dealt with, the person said, McCarthy will have more room to maneuver.

“If somebody wants to remove me because I want to be the adult in the room, go ahead and try,” McCarthy told reporters. 

Gaetz and other hardliners continued Saturday to reject any short-term spending deal to avert — or at least shorten — a federal funding lapse.  

The measure wouldn’t include ultra-conservatives’ demands for deep spending cuts and border policies anathema to Democrats.

“I want to keep government open while we finish our job to secure the border,” McCarthy told reporters after a closed-door GOP meeting that lasted an hour and a half. 

The lack of Ukraine funding could prove problematic for Democrats, whose votes Republicans need. McCarthy has told Republicans that the country can withstand 45 days without new US aid. A White House official said the administration didn’t have a comment on the proposal. 

Link to BGOV Bill Summary: H.R. 5860, Stopgap Funding Through Nov. 17

Republicans planned to fast-track the bill to the floor, which would require a two-thirds majority of the House for passage. The GOP controls only a narrow majority and would depend on Democratic votes to pass it. 

As debate on the bill got underway, top spending panel Democrat Rosa DeLauro argued against it on the House floor for failing to provide Ukraine aid.

Read More: A Shutdown Poses Political Risks Across the Washington Spectrum

Any House-passed plan would merely serve as a starting point for negotiations with the Senate, where a bipartisan majority has rallied behind its own continuing resolution devoid of hardline conservatives’ demands. But the new House proposal, should it pass, doesn’t contain the poison pills the Senate would outright reject. 

North Carolina Representative Greg Murphy emerged from the meeting saying some Republicans have a “pathological” dislike of McCarthy. 

“They’re not willing to put that aside and do what’s best for the country,” Murphy said of the hardliners.  “It’s pretty selfish, to be honest.” 

Read more: GOP Has Lots of Ideas to Halt a Shutdown But Can’t Agree on One

The proposal includes $16 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund.  

Even so, McCarthy can’t count on the measure to pass the House after his plan to keep the government open for 31 days — and temporarily cut funding for most agencies by 30% — was embarrassingly defeated on Friday. Hard-liners in his party joined Democrats in opposing it.

“I don’t know if this is going to surprise you, but I’m not voting for a CR,” Gaetz said Saturday.

Republicans are also mulling a bill would fund salaries for border security and military personnel and expiring extensions for the Federal Aviation Administration and the national flood insurance program. 

A measure funding troop pay passed both chambers unanimously during the 2013 government shutdown. But passing such a measure risks taking the pressure off both parties to agree to a broader short-term spending bill to reopen the government. 

Options and time are running short. Even if this bill passed, it would need to be embraced by the Democratic-led Senate to avert a government shutdown on Sunday morning.

Read more: The Shutdown Seven: Here Are Lawmakers to Watch in Negotiations

(Updates with comments on McCarthy’s strategy in third paragraph.)

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