Republican-controlled House and Democratic-led Senate have until start of October to avoid shutdown.With a possible partial US government shutdown looming in two weeks, Kevin McCarthy on Sunday said he would bring a defense spending bill to a vote "win or lose" this week, despite resistance from hardline fellow Republicans.
The House speaker is struggling to bring fiscal 2024 spending legislation to the floor, with Republicans fractured by conservative demands for spending to be cut to a 2022 level of $1.47tn - $120bn below the spending on which McCarthy agreed with Joe Biden in May.
themes: Joe Biden
US House leaders warn of dire consequences as government shutdown looms
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is facing opposition from hardline Republicans as a possible partial government shutdown looms in two weeks. McCarthy has vowed to bring a defense spending bill to a vote this week, regardless of the outcome. Senior Democrat Hakeem Jeffries criticized the Republicans in the House, accusing them of engaging in a "civil war" and causing chaos and dysfunction in Congress. The Republicans are divided over spending and pursuing a new impeachment drive against President Joe Biden, while also facing the possibility of a government shutdown.
McCarthy is struggling to bring the fiscal 2024 spending legislation to the House floor due to conservative demands for spending to be cut back to the 2022 level of $1.47 trillion. This is $120 billion below the agreed spending level with Biden in May. Jeffries emphasized the importance of avoiding a government shutdown that would harm the economy's recovery.
McCarthy is also facing calls for his ouster from hardline conservatives who accuse him of breaking promises made when he became speaker in January. The House and Senate have until October 1 to pass appropriations bills or a short-term spending measure to avoid a partial shutdown. McCarthy has taken a tougher stance with hardliners, stating that he will bring the defense bill to the floor this week.
McCarthy held closed-door discussions over the weekend to overcome opposition from conservative hardliners to spending legislation. They are seeking assurances that the legislation will include their desired spending cuts and conservative policy priorities, including tighter border security. Representative Elise Stefanik expressed optimism about moving forward on appropriations after the discussions, while Representative Nancy Mace did not rule out support for a vote to oust McCarthy. Mace criticized the speaker for not fulfilling promises regarding women's issues and gun violence.
McCarthy warned members of his caucus that they could face political consequences if they allow a government shutdown. He plans to keep the House in session until funding is passed to keep the government funded past September 30. The Fitch rating agency has already downgraded U.S. debt due to political brinkmanship and the repeated last-minute negotiations that threaten the government's ability to pay its bills.
Both sides acknowledge the negative impact of a government shutdown. McCarthy and other Republicans express concern about the short-sightedness of pushing for a shutdown, while Democrats, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, warn of the harm it could cause to vulnerable members of society who depend on government assistance. Efforts are being made to avoid a shutdown and find a resolution to the spending dispute.
U.S. House Republicans delay initial vote on short-term funding bill
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy expressed optimism on Wednesday as Republicans prepared to make another attempt at moving forward with fiscal 2024 spending legislation. McCarthy announced that a procedural vote on a defense appropriations bill would take place on Thursday. Following a closed-door meeting with his Republican majority, the California Republican stated that lawmakers were on the verge of reaching an agreement on a short-term stopgap measure to prevent a government shutdown on September 30. McCarthy also revealed that House Republicans would start advancing other full-scale appropriations bills.
"We're going to be voting tomorrow," McCarthy confidently informed reporters. "I think we made tremendous progress...I think we've got a plan to move forward." These remarks provided a glimmer of hope after House Republicans had faced difficulties advancing both the defense bill and the short-term measure known as a continuing resolution (CR) due to internal disagreements within the Republican party. The stalemate raised concerns about Congress's ability to keep federal agencies functioning as the new fiscal year commences on October 1.
The House, along with the Democratic-led Senate, now has just over a week to pass a CR or long-term spending legislation that President Joe Biden, a Democrat, can sign into law. The situation became complicated on Tuesday when opposition from five Republicans thwarted a vote intended to initiate debate on an $886 billion defense spending bill. These five Republican hardliners sought assurances that fiscal 2024 appropriations would not exceed a 2022 top line of $1.47 trillion, which is $120 billion less than the May agreement between McCarthy and Biden.
However, McCarthy revealed on Wednesday that he had managed to convince two of the five Republicans to change their positions. Despite this progress, discussions among Republicans have yet to yield a breakthrough on a proposed CR that would keep the government open until October 31. The proposed CR aims to cut spending and impose restrictions on U.S. immigration and border policy.
In a separate development, Speaker McCarthy announced on Tuesday that he had postponed a crucial procedural vote for a 30-day stopgap funding measure. The delay was intended to provide more time for the fractured Republican majority to gather the necessary votes to pass the measure. The stopgap, referred to as a continuing resolution or "CR," is facing opposition from over a dozen Republican hardline conservatives, which is enough to impede its progress in the House.
The CR, if passed, would sustain federal agencies until October 31 but reduce discretionary spending by approximately 8% for agencies outside of defense, veterans affairs, and disaster relief. It would also impose certain immigration restrictions and resume construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Critics from both sides of the aisle have voiced objections to the measure. Republican hardliners argue that it does not go far enough in cutting spending and constraining the Biden administration, while Democrats have decried its spending cuts and immigration policy changes.
Top US House Democrat sees Republican 'civil war' as shutdown looms
Hakeem Jeffries, the top House Democrat, faulted the Republicans who hold a narrow 221-212 majority in the chamber as they bicker over spending and pursue a new impeachment drive against President Joe Biden while the United States faces a possible fourth partial government shutdown in a decade.
"Let's be clear. House Republicans are in the middle of a civil war," Jeffries told ABC's “This Week” program, adding that the result has been "chaos, dysfunction and extremism" in Congress.
"What we should be focused on right now is avoiding an unnecessary government shutdown that will hurt the ability of our economy to continue to recover," Jeffries said.
McCarthy has also begun to face calls for floor action seeking his ouster from hardline conservatives and others who have accused him of failing to keep promises he made to become speaker in January following a revolt from some of the most conservative Republicans in the House.
The Republican-controlled House and Democratic-led Senate have until Oct. 1 to avoid a partial shutdown by enacting appropriations bills that Biden, a Democrat, can sign into law, or by passing a short-term stop gap spending measure to give lawmakers more time for debate.
McCarthy signaled a tougher stand with hardliners, telling the Fox News "Sunday Morning Futures" program that he would bring the stalled defense bill to the floor this week. The House last week postponed a vote on beginning debate on the defense appropriations bill due to opposition from the hardliners.
"We'll bring it to the floor, win or lose, and show the American public who's for the Department of Defense, who's for our military," McCarthy said.
McCarthy also said he wants to make sure there is no shutdown on Oct. 1, saying: "A shutdown would only give strength to the Democrats."
McCarthy has held closed-door discussions over the weekend aimed at overcoming a roadblock by the conservative hardliners to spending legislation. They want assurances that legislation will include their deep spending cuts, as well as conservative policy priorities including provisions related to tighter border security that are unlikely to secure Democratic votes.
"We made some good progress," McCarthy said.
Representative Elise Stefanik, the No. 4 House Republican, told the "Fox News Sunday" program that she was optimistic about moving forward on appropriations after closed-door discussions.
But Republican Representative Nancy Mace told ABC's “This Week” that she expects a shutdown and did not rule out support for a vote to oust McCarthy's ouster. Mace complained that the speaker has not made good on promises to her involving action on women's issues and gun violence.
"Everything's on the table at this point for me," Mace said.
Mace played down the consequences of a shutdown, saying much of the government would remain in operation and that the hiatus would give government workers time off with back pay at a later date.
Democratic former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that a shutdown would risk harming the most vulnerable members of society who depend on government assistance.
"We're talking about diminishing even something as simple and fundamental as feeding the children," Pelosi told MSNBC. "We have to try to avoid it."
US House Republicans Face Crucial Test as Shutdown Looms
In a major setback for U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Republicans once again blocked a procedural vote on defense spending, increasing the risk of a government shutdown in just 10 days. The House of Representatives voted 216-212 against beginning debate on an $886 billion defense appropriations bill, with opposition coming from a small group of hardline conservative Republicans.
This failure comes at a crucial time, as federal agencies are set to shut down on October 1 unless Congress passes a short-term continuing resolution or a full-year funding bill. However, House Republicans have thus far failed to unify around either possibility, and the proposals they have considered have only gained support from within their own party, making them unlikely to succeed in the Democratic-majority Senate or be signed into law by President Joe Biden.
The inability of Republicans to reach a consensus has drawn criticism from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who accused Speaker McCarthy of wasting time on extremist proposals that have no chance of becoming law. This sentiment was echoed by Representative Keith Self, who voted to advance the bill but expressed a lack of trust in McCarthy's leadership. Emotions were running high in the chamber as the motion failed.
Adding to McCarthy's challenges, former President Donald Trump called for a government shutdown, reminiscent of the three shutdowns that occurred during his tenure. Trump accused the Biden administration of weaponizing the government and called on Republicans to defund all aspects of Biden's policies. It is worth noting that Trump is currently facing four criminal trials, including two brought by federal prosecutors, and has claimed without evidence that they are politically motivated.
The political brinkmanship surrounding the spending negotiations has also caught the attention of Wall Street, with rating agency Fitch downgrading the U.S. debt rating earlier this year. Representative Rosa DeLauro, the top Democrat on the House appropriations panel, expressed her disappointment, stating that the unpredictability of the situation is detrimental to the country's ability to respond to the needs of the American people.
The root cause of the impasse lies within the Republican caucus, where a small group of hardline conservatives is demanding assurances that fiscal 2024 appropriations will not exceed the 2022 top line of $1.47 trillion. This amount is $120 billion less than what McCarthy and Biden agreed to in May. A bipartisan group known as the "Problem Solvers Caucus" proposed a measure to fund the government through January 11, but it remains unclear if the measure will advance without McCarthy's support.
McCarthy had previously proposed a 30-day continuing resolution that would cut spending to the 2022 level and include a commission to tackle the federal debt, as well as conservative restrictions on immigration and the border. However, it is uncertain how much support this proposal would garner from House Republicans.
The situation is further complicated by McCarthy's need to balance the demands of hardline conservatives with the broader goals of the Republican Party. McCarthy, who is facing the biggest challenge of his speakership, is trying to avoid a government shutdown without losing his position as the top Republican in Congress.
Moderate Republicans believe that ultimately, Congress will adhere to the spending level agreed upon by Biden and McCarthy. However, if the House fails to move forward on spending, Republican leaders may be forced to negotiate directly with Senate Democrats on appropriations bills, bypassing the hardline conservatives. This could result in bipartisan legislation that could pass both chambers quickly and be signed into law by Biden.
The stakes are high for McCarthy, who is already facing the threat of ouster. Some House Republicans fear that his decision to open an impeachment inquiry into Biden could hinder cooperation on spending from Democrats. The White House has dismissed the probe as unsubstantiated, and many moderate Republicans claim they have seen no evidence of wrongdoing by the president.
As the deadline for a government shutdown looms, the fate of spending legislation remains uncertain. While the House continues to grapple with internal divisions, the risk of a government shutdown becomes increasingly real, with potentially dire consequences for both the American people and the political future of Speaker McCarthy.
US House Republicans look to restart spending agenda with defense vote
U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will try to restart his stalled Republican spending agenda on Thursday, with a procedural vote on a fiscal 2024 defense appropriations bill that Republicans have already twice failed to advance.
A vote to open debate on the $886 billion measure is expected in the House of Representatives, a day after McCarthy's fractious majority met in a 2-1/2-hour closed-door meeting aimed at finding common ground on legislation to avert a government shutdown in barely a week and half.
"We're going to be voting," McCarthy told reporters late on Wednesday. .....
McCarthy said Republicans were also "very close" on a short-term funding measure known as a continuing resolution, or CR, and predicted that he would be able to advance other longer-term spending legislation.
To avert a government shutdown on Oct. 1, the House and the Democratic-led Senate must agree on short- or long-term spending legislation that Democratic President Joe Biden can then sign into law. But the partisan measures that Republicans hope to begin passing soon face stiff opposition from Democrats in the Senate and from the White House.
The Republican spending agenda had run afoul of a small group of Republican hardline conservatives, who wanted assurances that fiscal 2024 appropriations will not exceed a 2022 top line of $1.47 trillion - $120 billion less than McCarthy and Biden agreed to in May.
On Tuesday McCarthy had to pull a procedural vote on a proposed 30-day CR. Then a vote to open floor debate on the defense appropriations bill failed. The defense bill had already been delayed earlier in the month.
The Republican stalemate raised concerns about the ability of Congress to keep federal agencies afloat when current funding expires on Sept. 30.
But McCarthy told reporters on Wednesday that he had been able to win support from two of the five hardliners who had joined Democrats to oppose the defense appropriations bill on Tuesday. With a narrow 221-212 majority, McCarthy can afford to lose no more than four votes on measures opposed by Democrats.
The two hardliners appear to have changed their positions after McCarthy proposed a 30-day CR that would cut spending to the 2022 level, according to two sources familiar with the discussion. The CR would include a commission to tackle the federal debt and conservative restrictions on immigration and the border.
McCarthy's proposal would also set a top line for full-year fiscal 2024 spending at just under $1.53 trillion, the sources said.
It was not clear how much support the CR or the 2024 top line would draw from House Republicans.
But McCarthy sounded an optimistic note on the CR.
"We're very close," he said. "I feel like I've just got a little more movement to go there."
McCarthy says US House Republicans to vote on defense spending bill Thursday
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Republicans will try again to move forward on fiscal 2024 spending legislation on Thursday, with a procedural vote on a defense appropriations bill.
After a 2-1/2 hour closed-door meeting with members of his Republican majority, the California Republican also said lawmakers were "very close" to agreement on a short-term stopgap measure to avert a government shutdown on Sept. 30.
He said House Republicans would also begin advancing other full-scale appropriations bills.
His comments provided a rare sign of progress a day after House Republicans were unable to advance the defense bill and the short-term measure, known as a continuing resolution or “CR” due to Republican infighting.
McCarthy said on Wednesday he had been able to persuade two of the five to change their positions.
U.S. House Republicans delay initial vote on short-term funding bill
U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Tuesday that he has delayed a key procedural vote for a 30-day stopgap funding measure intended to avert a government shutdown after current funding for federal agencies expires on Sept. 30.
Speaking to reporters in the U.S. ..... The stopgap measure vote had been scheduled to happen first.
"We changed the order," the Republican speaker told reporters, saying the delay would provide more time for his fractured Republican majority to muster the votes needed to pass the measure.
The CR would keep federal agencies afloat until Oct. 31 but cut discretionary spending by about 8% for agencies outside of defense, veterans affairs and disaster relief. .....
Republican hardliners who oppose the measure say it does not go far enough to cut spending and constrain the administration of President Joe Biden, a Democrat.
The measure also faces stiff opposition from Democrats in both the House and Senate, who have decried its spending cuts and immigration policy changes.
Shutdown Looms as US House Republicans Again Block Own Spending Bill
It represented a setback for McCarthy the morning after his fractious 221-212 majority met for 2-1/2 hours seeking common ground on legislation to avert the fourth government shutdown in a decade beginning October 1.
As the vote failed, McCarthy told reporters that he will pursue the "same strategy I had from January: just keep working; never give up."
.....Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York speaks to the media on Capitol Hill on Sept. 21, 2023.
"Instead of decreasing the chance of a shutdown, Speaker McCarthy is actually increasing it by wasting time on extremist proposals that cannot become law in the Senate," top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said.
The bill had been scheduled for a five-minute vote that Republicans kept open for over a half hour in a vain hope of winning additional votes.
Republican Representative Keith Self, who had voted to advance the bill, said the motion's failure showed a lack of trust in McCarthy's leadership.FILE - Rep. Keith Self, R-Texas, speaks at the Capitol in Washington, July 25, 2023.
"It's a matter of trust," Self told reporters while declining to elaborate. Asked about the mood in the chamber, Self said: "There were emotions running high."
Donald Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, added to McCarthy's distractions with a call to shut the government, as occurred three times during his four years in the White House.
"Republicans in Congress can and must defund all aspects of Crooked Joe Biden's weaponized Government that refuses to close the Border, and treats half the Country as Enemies of the State," the former president said on his Truth Social platform.
Trump is awaiting four criminal trials, including two brought by federal prosecutors, over charges including his attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat. He has claimed without evidence that all four prosecutions are politically motivated.
Political brinkmanship has begun to attract the attention of Wall Street, with rating agency Fitch citing repeated down-to-the-wire negotiations that threaten the government's ability to pay its bills when it downgraded U.S. debt rating to AA+ from its top-notch AAA designation earlier this year.
"The unpredictability is sad for the country," said Representative Rosa DeLauro, top Democrat on the House appropriations panel. "They have stopped our ability to respond to the needs of the American people."FILE - Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, arrives at the Capitol in Washington, June 15, ..... That is still $60 billion less than he agreed to with Biden in May.