In Washington, A group of hard-right Republicans dealt Speaker Kevin McCarthy yet another setback in his efforts to prevent a government shutdown by voting against a bill that would have kept the government open for a month at lower spending levels.
By a vote of 198 to 232, the 165-page continuing resolution bill was defeated. Along with all of the Democrats, twenty-one Republicans also voted against the bill.
GOP resistance was stronger than anticipated. The inclusion of billions of dollars to strengthen border security, which McCarthy had thought would win over their support, did not appear to sway a number of Republican holdouts who had opposed enacting a short-term agreement.
After the vote, McCarthy declared that he had “other ideas” and would meet with Republican lawmakers later on Friday to determine the best course of action. McCarthy’s response, when asked what makes sense to do next, was to “keep working and make sure we solve this problem.”
The race to avoid a government shutdown
The bill’s failure comes ahead of the fast-approaching deadline to avoid a government shutdown, which would technically begin at 12 a.m. Sunday when funding for most federal agencies expires.
A shutdown would force millions of federal employees to go on furlough or continue working without getting paid until the funding lapse ends. Most of the effects wouldn’t begin to be felt until Monday morning, when employees would report to work to start implementing agency-specific shutdown procedures.
McCarthy’s bill would not have been considered by the Senate, which is drafting its own bipartisan legislation, even if it had passed the House. Before the vote, President Biden additionally threatened to veto the House bill, effectively sealing its demise.
Approximately a dozen Republicans on the far right have stated they would not or were unlikely to support any continuing agreement. McCarthy has so far been unable to create a package that would pass both chambers of Congress with a majority and fund the government with his four-seat majority in the House. Democrats want to maintain existing levels of federal financing and reject any expenditure reductions supported by the GOP. The group of hard-right holdouts has vowed to seek a vote for McCarthy’s removal if he pursues enacting a bill with Democratic support.
The Senate is now the focus of attention. The Senate Democrats’ proposed measure was still being worked up on Friday, but an early draft would maintain existing levels of funding for the government until November 17. Additionally, it includes massive amounts of funding for Ukraine, which is opposed by many Republicans in the House. McCarthy has stated that Ukraine help should be discussed separately, and on Thursday night, the House voted to authorize $300 million in aid, a sum that is significantly less than what senators and the White House are requesting.
If lawmakers are unable to come to a bipartisan compromise on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned senators to prepare for a preliminary vote on the Democratic version of the plan on Saturday morning.
Reporting was given by Jack Turman, Jacqueline Kalil, and Alan He.