McCarthy Rejects Senate Spending Bill 09/29 06:17
A government shutdown appeared all but inevitable as House Speaker Kevin
McCarthy dug in Thursday, vowing he will not take up Senate legislation
designed to keep the federal government fully running despite House
Republicans' struggle to unite around an alternative.
WASHINGTON (AP) --- A government shutdown appeared all but inevitable as
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy dug in Thursday, vowing he will not take up Senate
legislation designed to keep the federal government fully running despite House
Republicans' struggle to unite around an alternative.
Congress is at an impasse just days before a disruptive federal shutdown
that would halt paychecks for many of the federal government's roughly 2
million employees, as well as 2 million active-duty military troops and
reservists, furlough many of those workers and curtail government services.
But the House and Senate are pursuing different paths to avert those
consequences even though time is running out before government funding expires
after midnight on Saturday.
"I still got time. I've got time to do other things," McCarthy told
reporters Thursday evening at the Capitol, adding, "At the end of the day,
we'll get it all done."
The Senate is working toward passage of a bipartisan measure that would fund
the government until Nov. 17 as longer-term negotiations continue, while also
providing $6 billion for Ukraine and $6 billion for U.S. disaster relief.
The House, meanwhile, took up four of the dozen annual spending bills that
fund federal agencies. Republicans were heartened as they passed three bills
that would fund the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and
State Department, though the fourth bill to fund federal agriculture programs
In one sign of deepening resistance to assisting Ukraine, more than half the
House Republicans voted against providing Ukraine $300 million in military aid,
though the money was approved on a bipartisan 311-117 vote.
The House's movement on the appropriations legislation won't keep the
government from shutting down, but leadership hoped the progress would cajole
enough Republicans to support a House-crafted continuing resolution that
temporarily funds the government and boosts security at the U.S. border with
It's a long shot, but McCarthy predicted a deal.
Lawmakers, already weary from days of late-night negotiating, showed signs
of strain at McCarthy's closed-door meeting with Republicans Thursday morning.
It was marked by a tense exchange between the speaker and Rep. Matt Gaetz,
R-Fla., according to those in the room.
Gaetz, who has taunted McCarthy for weeks with threats to oust him from his
post, confronted the speaker about conservative online influencers being paid
to post negative things about him. McCarthy shot back that he wouldn't waste
his time on something like that, Gaetz told reporters as he exited the meeting.
McCarthy's allies left the meeting fuming about Gaetz's tactics.
With his majority splintering, McCarthy is scrambling to come up with a plan
for preventing a shutdown and win Republican support. The speaker told
Republicans he would reveal a Republican stopgap plan, known as a continuing
resolution or CR, on Friday, according to those in the room, while also trying
to force Senate Democrats into giving some concessions.
But with time running out, many GOP lawmakers were either withholding
support for a temporary measure until they had a chance to see it. Others are
considering joining Democrats, without McCarthy's support, to bring forward a
bill that would prevent a shutdown.
With his ability to align his conference in doubt, McCarthy has little
standing to negotiate with Senate Democrats. He has also attempted to draw
President Joe Biden into negotiations, but the White House, so far, has shown
Biden sought to apply more pressure on McCarthy, urging him to compromise
with Democrats even though that could threaten his job.
"I think that the speaker is making a choice between his speakership and
American interests," Biden said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Congress and the White
House had already worked out top-line spending levels for next year with an
agreement this summer that allowed the government to continue borrowing to pay
its bills. But McCarthy was deviating from that deal and courting a shutdown by
catering to Republicans who say it didn't do enough to cut spending, he said.
"By focusing on the views of the radical few instead of the many, Speaker
McCarthy has made a shutdown far more likely," Schumer said.
McCarthy insisted in a CNBC interview that the House will have its say.
"Will I accept and surrender to what the Senate decides? The answer is no,
we're our own body."
But later at the Capitol, he openly complained about the difficulty he is
having herding Republican lawmakers.
"Members say they only want to vote for individual bills, but they hold me
up all summer and won't let me bring individual bills up. Then they say they
won't vote for a stopgap measure that keeps government open," McCarthy told
"So I don't know, where do you go in that scenario?"
The speaker also hinted he has a backup plan but gave no indication he was
ready to work with Democrats to pass something in the House.
Meanwhile, the White House, as well as the Department of Homeland Security,
notified staff on Thursday to prepare for a shutdown, according to emails
obtained by The Associated Press. Employees who are furloughed would have four
hours on Monday to prepare their offices for the shutdown.
The White House plans to keep on all commissioned officers. That includes
chief of staff Jeff Zients, press secretary Karine Jean Pierre, national
security adviser Jake Sullivan and other senior-level personnel, by declaring
them "excepted" during a shutdown, according to the White House email.
Military troops and federal workers, including law enforcement officers, air
traffic controllers and Transportation Security Administration officers, will
also report to work because they are essential to protecting life and property.
They would miss paychecks if the shutdown lasts beyond Oct. 13, the next
scheduled payday, though they are slated to receive backpay once any shutdown
Social Security payments for seniors, Medicare and Medicaid payments to
health care providers, and disability payments to veterans will continue, as
much of the government will continue to function. But there will be critical
services that do stop. For example, the U.S. Treasury says that, with
two-thirds of IRS employees potentially furloughed, taxpayer phone calls to the
agency will go unanswered and 363 Taxpayer Assistance Centers across the
country will close.
Many Republicans have voiced fears they would be blamed for a shutdown --
including in the Senate, where many GOP members are aligned with Democrats on a
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he agrees with many of the
goals of the House Republicans, but he warned a shutdown will not achieve any
"Instead of producing any meaningful policy outcomes, it would actually take
the important progress being made on a number of key issues and drag it
backward," McConnell said.
Nevertheless, Senate Republicans huddled for much of the day to cobble
together a plan that could win support to boost funding for border security.
McCarthy's House allies were also hoping the threat of a shutdown could help
conservatives with their push to limit federal spending and combat illegal
immigration at the U.S-Mexico border.
"Anytime you have a stopgap situation like this, you have an opportunity to
leverage," said Rep. Garret Graves, R-La. "This is another opportunity. America
does not want an open Southern border. The polls are crystal clear. It's having
a profound impact on us."