GOP turmoil and infighting has brought the House to a standstill
According to multiple GOP sources, House Republican leaders are sending members home for the week amid deep divisions over funding the government, as the possibility of a shutdown at the end of next week grows ever more likely.
The decision to send members home came after conservatives decisively defied House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and GOP leadership on a procedural vote on a Pentagon funding bill, with members not expected to return until next week.
House Republicans had planned to meet over the weekend to pass a short-term government funding bill. However, that strategy is currently on hold due to turmoil and infighting within the House Republican conference, which threatens to paralyze the chamber.
According to multiple lawmakers and aides, the new plan is for Republicans to try to finish work on individual, long-term spending bills after their short-term funding bill failed to garner the necessary GOP votes due to hardliner opposition.
However, there is little chance that the work will be completed before the funding expiration deadline next week. Furthermore, those bills would die in the Senate, making that a viable plan to avoid a shutdown.
While no votes are expected this weekend, some House members will remain in Washington to continue discussions about next steps.
McCarthy is under pressure and has faced threats of impeachment as a result of Thursday’s failed vote. The derailed defense funding bill typically receives widespread bipartisan support, demonstrating how even normally uncontroversial issues have become mired in Republican infighting.
McCarthy emerged visibly frustrated from the House floor, which was in complete paralysis as House hardliners blocked the vote, accusing the group of simply wanting to “burn the place down.”
“It’s frustrating in the sense that I don’t understand why anybody votes against bringing the idea up and having the debate,” McCarthy told reporters.
Hardliners’ opposition has hampered Republican leadership’s efforts to unite behind a plan to fund the government. Days of talks have produced a few visible breakthroughs, but McCarthy’s Republican opponents have been quick to dismiss progress and openly defy the speaker’s calls for unity. McCarthy’s razor-thin margin in the chamber means that he can only lose four members without losing Democratic support – and absences can raise or lower the majority threshold.
McCarthy briefed his conference behind closed doors late Wednesday evening on a new potential plan to keep the government open – paired with deeper spending cuts and new border security measures – in an effort to win over wary members on his right flank. The speaker’s plan would keep the government open for 30 days at a $1.47 trillion spending level, create a debt commission, and fund border security. Separately, they agreed to move year-long funding bills totaling $1.53 trillion. That level is lower than the bipartisan agreement reached by the speaker and the White House to raise the national debt limit.
It’s unclear whether Republicans would be able to unite behind this plan, but even if they did, it would die in the Senate, making it ineffective as a way to avoid a shutdown.
On Thursday, a total of six Republicans voted against the rule. The bill was opposed by Reps. Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Matt Rosendale of Montana, Eli Crane of Arizona, and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. House Rules Committee Chairman Tom Cole of Oklahoma eventually changed his vote, voting against the rule so that it could be reconsidered.
As the shutdown deadline approaches, it is unclear what course of action Congress will take next week.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, on the other hand, took a procedural step on Thursday that would allow the Senate to vote next week on a short-term government funding bill.
“As I have said for months, we must work together to keep our government open, avoid a shutdown, and spare the American people unnecessary pain.” “With this action, the Senate will have the option to do just that,” he said.
Additional developments have been added to this story and headline.