The government is careening toward a shutdown as McCarthy caves to right-wing members
The right flank of the House Republican caucus has vowed to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy as House speaker if he doesn’t adhere to its demands.
The chances of a government shutdown rose on Wednesday night after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told the members of his Republican caucus that he will put up for a vote a spending bill that has no chance of becoming law, Punchbowl News reported.
With nine days to go before the federal government’s funding runs out, McCarthy said he will put up a short-term funding bill that makes draconian cuts to the budget and violates a spending agreement he made in May with President Joe Biden. The bill will also contain an unrelated immigration package that Biden promised to veto.
McCarthy’s action comes as he faces threats to his speakership. A group of right-wing lawmakers have said it will remove McCarthy as speaker if he doesn’t cut spending to the level it wants; McCarthy narrowly won the position in January after 15 rounds of voting and major concessions to far-right members of his party.
But appeasing his right flank and keeping his job won’t keep the government open.
Even if McCarthy and his small House majority can pass the funding bill, which Politico reported is not guaranteed, it has to go to the Democratic-controlled Senate for approval. There, it will likely be amended before senators pass it and send it back to the House, where lawmakers in the lower chamber will have to pass the amended version. That means McCarthy will once again be in a position where he’ll have to choose whether to keep the government open or appease his right flank.
“We all get wrapped around the axle about what we’re doing right now, but … eventually the Senate is going to get an opportunity to weigh in, and they’re going to send something back to us, and it’s going to look a lot different,” Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) told Politico. “Then we’ll have another bigger decision to make — and that’s when the most emotional, strategic vote will have to take place.”
Republican lawmakers in competitive districts are frustrated that McCarthy is trying to appease this group of hardliners rather than keep the government open.
“We are on track to have a government shutdown,” Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) said in a tele-town hall meeting, according to Politico’s Jordain Carney. “None of these ideas have any chance of being taken up in the Senate and signed into law.”
A new poll conducted by the Republican polling firm the Tarrance Group for the Republican Main Street Partnership found 38% of voters would blame Republicans in Congress if the government shut down. Another 19% would blame Democrats in Congress, while 17% would blame Biden.
Democrats are criticizing McCarthy for reneging on the deal he made with Biden, saying that the only reason there is a risk of a shutdown is because McCarthy is thinking about his own survival rather than the good of the country.
“As he tries to protect his own job, he is forgetting about the needs of the people who sent him here to govern,” House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark said Thursday in an interview with CNN. “Kevin McCarthy and the extremists are concerned about keeping Kevin in office.”
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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