Republican Plan To Avert Shutdown Appears Dead on Arrival as Conservatives and Democrats Lambast Deal

With just a four-seat majority in the House, Republican leaders have seemingly already lost the fight.

AP/J. Scott Applewhite, file
Speaker McCarthy at the Capitol, September 14, 2023. The Republican wants more Ukraine aid to be debated on its own merits as a standalone bill, rather than attaching it to other priorities like government funding. AP/J. Scott Applewhite, file

The unveiling of a Republican plan to avert a government shutdown on October 1 has failed to move the ball even an inch for Speaker McCarthy and his leadership team, as more than a dozen conservatives and seemingly all Democrats have come out against the deal. This comes as both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate reach bipartisan consensus to further pressure the lower chamber. 

During a conference call on Sunday evening, Mr. McCarthy detailed a short-term spending agreement, known as a continuing resolution, that had been brokered between two of the most significant caucuses within the House GOP — the Main Street Caucus and the Freedom Caucus, which combined include more than half of the House’s 222 Republicans. 

The deal would make aggressive cuts to discretionary spending while ignoring key supplemental funding projects that the White House and Senate support. The Main Street and Freedom Caucuses agreed to an 8 percent cut across-the-board for nondefense discretionary spending that would take effect immediately and affect more than $70 billion in federal spending. 

With just a four-seat majority in the House, though, Republican leaders have seemingly already lost this fight. Within minutes of the deal being announced, more than a dozen Republicans — mostly from the Freedom Caucus — came out against it. 

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor-Greene, who was kicked out of the Freedom Caucus for her close relationship with Mr. McCarthy, said the deal is “all the policies from last year’s Democrat appropriations.” Congressman Matt Gaetz told Axios that the deal is “a gift to Joe Biden.”

One newly minted Freedom Caucus member who was elected in 2022, Congressman Andy Ogles, laid out some of his colleagues’ priorities on the social media platform X on Monday. The demands include closing the border, defunding Special Counsel Jack Smith, and releasing all Capitol Hill security footage from January 6, 2021. 

With more than a dozen defections on his own side of the aisle, Mr. McCarthy seemingly will have to rely on Democrats, though they seem even less likely to aid him. The top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, called the proposal “extreme” in a statement.

“House Republicans want to shut down the government because House Democrats, Senate Republicans and Democrats, and President Biden oppose their extreme cuts that will make working families pay even more for the things they need at a time when the cost of living is already too high,” she wrote.

The proposal would keep the government open for 30 days, until October 31, during which time the Republicans in the House would attempt to pass 11 appropriations bills that they have so far failed to advance. The agreement would keep at current levels funding for the departments of defense, homeland security, and veterans affairs. 

Also attached to the agreement is a GOP-backed immigration reform bill known as the Secure the Border Act. The legislation, which was passed by the House in May but died in the Senate, would require the Biden administration to resume construction of the wall along the southern border, implement a verification system for migrants who are working in America, and end the policy known as “catch and release.” The short-term funding deal announced Sunday calls for passage of the bill but excludes the e-verify provision. 

The White House and Senate have already called the Secure the Border Act a nonstarter. In a statement released after the House passed the legislation earlier this year, the White House said the president would not sign the bill, arguing that the legislation “makes elements of our immigration system worse.”

The short-term funding deal also does not include more than $20 billion in supplemental funding for Ukraine aid that the White House and Senate support. Also not included in the bill is additional funding for disaster relief, which has been deemed necessary in the wake of recent catastrophic weather events. 

Mr. McCarthy’s concessions to the right wing of his caucus have won him zero favors in recent weeks. On September 12, the speaker announced that the House would open an impeachment inquiry into the president, something conservative members like Ms. Greene and Mr. Gaetz have been pushing for since the first day of President Biden’s administration. 

The announcement did nothing to dissuade his most ardent detractors’ obstinate opposition to a government funding bill. At a press conference on the grounds of the Capitol just hours after the inquiry was announced, members of the Freedom Caucus gathered and made it clear they would not lift a finger to help Mr. McCarthy. 

“Under no circumstances should we have a dirty CR or a clean CR, so-called, on October 1 — that should not be on the table,” a rising star in Republican politics who challenged Mr. McCarthy for the speakership in January, Congressman Chip Roy, said.

“We’re not interested in a continuing resolution that continues the policies and the spending of the Biden-Schumer-Pelosi era, and we’re not going to vote for it,” the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, Congressman Scott Perry, said.

The New York Sun

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