A mid-November US government shutdown, already a serious risk, is increasingly likely following the toppling of Speaker Kevin McCarthy and worsening of an intra-party Republican conflict in the House.
(Bloomberg) — A mid-November US government shutdown, already a serious risk, is increasingly likely following the toppling of Speaker Kevin McCarthy and worsening of an intra-party Republican conflict in the House.
Hardline Republican Matt Gaetz of Florida and other conservative critics presented McCarthy’s support for temporary funding to prevent an Oct. 1 shutdown as a central grievance in their successful campaign to oust him.
That is a powerful deterrent for McCarthy’s successor to consider before backing another round of temporary financing to keep the government open after the next deadline, on Nov. 17. At the same time, the vacuum opened in Republican leadership delays progress on spending negotiations. adding to the shutdown threat.
The move by just eight dissidents to remove McCarthy has unleashed fury among the broad swathe of House Republicans who supported the former speaker, further roiling relationships in a party with passionate internal differences over how far to go in pursuing an ultra-conservative agenda.
“The conference is not going to be able to quickly coalesce,” said Louisiana Republican Garret Graves, a McCarthy ally.
“If there is a shutdown in November, that is 100% attributable to Matt Gaetz and the other 7 boneheads who forced this,” Graves said. “We’re frozen. You can’t do anything.”
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The funding debacle is further complicated by a bipartisan Senate push to attach Ukraine assistance to the next funding measure and growing opposition in the House GOP to helping Ukraine. Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a hardline conservative running to replace McCarthy, said he would oppose new aid for Ukraine.
The hardliners are demanding Congress stop using big temporary funding packages to keep the government open and instead pass 12 traditional annual spending measures that each fund parts of the US government.
Yet the House has only passed the four least controversial of them and the Senate hasn’t passed any of those measures, though the Appropriations Committee has bipartisan agreements on each one. The Senate plans a recess from Thursday until Oct. 16.
The two bodies would have to resolve considerable differences in each of the 12 pieces of legislation. Among other things, they are $120 billion apart on how much the federal government overall should spend.
The House is now paralyzed from voting on the remaining eight bills. Interim Speaker Patrick McHenry’s position is unprecedented and his authority unclear but House aides generally interpret his duties as limited to presiding over a speaker election, not legislative business.
The House took off for the remainder of week after McCarthy was overthrown. Next week may be consumed by the struggle to pick a new speaker, a process that could go on even longer.
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McCarthy’s initial election back in January took 15 rounds of voting before he reached the necessary majority of votes cast by all members of the House, Republican and Democrat.
“We’re putting more pressure on the process, weakening the hand, in my view, of Republicans, because that Nov. 17th date is charging at us,” Representative French Hill, an Arkansas Republican, said on Bloomberg Television.
The warnings are ringing throughout the Capitol.
“We now find ourselves in a dangerous situation: with about 40 days to go before the government shuts down, the House has ground completely to a halt,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday.
–With assistance from Matt Shirley.
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