Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s bid to gain the upper hand in the battle over federal spending ran into stiff opposition from within his own ranks Monday, leaving him with dwindling options and little time to break a stalemate on spending. spending that could lead to a government shutdown. in less than two weeks.
A dozen Republicans made clear they were fiercely opposed to the proposal unveiled Sunday, which combines a stopgap spending measure with deep funding cuts and new border controls, indicating they could not be induced to change their votes under pressure from their leaders. The measure was unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, but Mr. McCarthy, who has made clear he was desperate to avoid a politically damaging shutdown, promoted it as a way to apply pressure on the other room to do what he wants when it comes to spending. .
Yet internal resistance made it clear that it largely lacked the votes needed to pass it.
“The Republican House is once again failing the American people and pursuing a path of games and circuses,” Rep. Victoria Spartz, Republican of Indiana, said in a statement. “Neither Republicans nor Democrats have the courage to stand up to the corrupt swamp that is bankrupting our children and grandchildren. It’s a shame our weak speaker can’t even commit to creating a commission to discuss our impending fiscal catastrophe.”
“This city is addicted to spending other people’s money,” Rep. Eli Crane, Republican of Arizona, said on X, formerly Twitter. “Enough is enough.”
With Mr. McCarthy’s slim majority, opposition from a dozen Republicans would prevent him from moving the bill forward, as Democrats are unanimously opposed to it and so far in no rush to bail out the president. Upon arriving at the Capitol on Monday, Mr. McCarthy suggested that lawmakers might change their minds once they were able to fully digest the legislation, but he admitted it was difficult to convince him.
“It’s a good thing I like a challenge,” Mr. McCarthy said. “Every day is going to be a challenge. I have a long week.
The proposal developed over the weekend would extend federal funding through October, giving the House and Senate time to make further progress on their spending bills that have been stalled for a year. It would cut most federal agencies’ budgets for that period by about 8 percent while exempting the military, veterans programs and disaster relief. It would also restore some strict Trump-era immigration policies. It does not contain funding for continued military assistance to Ukraine – money sought by the White House and both parties in the Senate.
Given budget cuts, immigration provisions opposed by Democrats and a lack of aid to Ukraine, the interim proposal has no chance of passing as is in the Senate. Mr. McCarthy was well aware of this, but hoped that passage by the House of Representatives would be a show of force that would force the Senate to respond and potentially shift responsibility for the Rotunda’s closure.
It’s a strategy that worked for Mr. McCarthy during the debt ceiling showdown earlier this year, when he defied expectations and successfully pushed through the House an increase in the tied debt ceiling to spending cuts, forcing President Biden to open negotiations with him that led to an eventual agreement. But far-right House conservatives, who only reluctantly voted to raise the debt ceiling, were unhappy with the deal Mr. McCarthy ultimately struck — and they don’t seem inclined to provide this support in the current fight against spending.
While some conservatives opposed the plan, the prospect of a shutdown alarmed other Republicans, including those in swing districts carried by Mr. Biden in 2020, who could feel the political backlash of a government shutdown.
“They don’t know how to take yes for an answer,” Rep. Mike Lawler, Republican of New York, said in a post on the X platform about Republican criticism of the legislative proposal known as the continuing resolution. or CR “They don’t know how to define a victory. They don’t know how to work as a team. I will NOT support a government shutdown. If they refuse to pass a CR, I will do it without them.
Mr. McCarthy has said repeatedly that he does not want the government to shut down and that he might try to pass a stopgap bill with a combination of Republican votes like Mr. Lawler and Democrats, like he did it with the final debt vote. limit agreement. But some right-wing Republicans said such a move would lead to a challenge to his position.
The new proposal had some conservative support. Rep. Chip Roy, Republican of Texas and a prominent member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, embraced it and said House approval would then leave Senate Democrats responsible for the shutdown if they rejected it. Mr. Roy, one of the architects of the immigration restrictions passed by the House earlier this year, was among those who said he would not support any temporary spending if it did not strengthen the border.
“A 30-day extension by the GOP to impose an 8% cut to the Justice Department and the rest of the federal bureaucracy is a reduction in its militarization while passing through border security and putting a look to the Ministry of Defense,” Mr. Roy said on the X platform as he tried to rally conservatives behind the proposal.
In addition to the temporary funding bill, Mr. McCarthy also hoped to revive a Pentagon spending measure that stalled last week when right-wing Republicans said they would not allow it to be introduced. Mr. McCarthy said on Sunday that he intended to force a vote on the legislation and see if conservatives buckled under the pressure of being accused of abandoning the military.
The Chamber was not alone in finding itself in a funding impasse. After weeks of bipartisan progress, the Senate hit a roadblock Thursday when Sen. Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, opposed a plan to consider three different spending bills together.
Senate leaders from both parties were exploring ways to get around that hurdle so they could begin debate this week.
“Everyone is in a difficult situation,” Mr. McCarthy said. “Nothing is easy.”