Kevin McCarthy lacks the votes to pass his latest idea for a short-term spending bill, signaling a shutdown at midnight Saturday is inevitable.
McCarthy is expected to bring a bill to the floor on Friday that would pair a stopgap funding bill with spending cuts and a sweeping GOP border bill. But despite multiple entreaties from the speaker and his allies during a closed-door meeting on Wednesday, POLITICO confirmed enough House conservatives oppose a so-called continuing resolution to block its passage.
“I’ve been unmovable on a CR for months,” Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) told reporters this week.
McCarthy and GOP leaders had hoped moving forward on spending bills Tuesday night would help unstick some hardliners who insisted on considering individual funding bills rather than passing a short-term plan to keep the government open. That strategy clearly didn’t play out, as multiple members left a closed-door conference meeting Wednesday morning still vowing to oppose any stopgap funding measures that would prevent a shutdown.
At full House attendance, McCarthy can risk only losing four of his own members, given united Democratic opposition. But there are at least eight Republican “no” votes on the stopgap, including: Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Eli Crane (Ariz.), Cory Mills (Fla.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Tim Burchett (Tenn.), Andy Ogles (Tenn.) Wesley Hunt (Texas) and Rosendale. Many in the group have vowed not to support any short-term funding bill.
“We are going to pass 12 appropriations bills before I will consider a CR,” Ogles said.
Those eight likely aren’t alone. There are other conservatives viewed as unlikely to vote for McCarthy’s latest funding proposal, though they wouldn’t say directly how they planned to vote as they left a closed-door conference meeting on Wednesday.
“The question that anybody would have to ask is: What is going to happen?” said Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), who has been skeptical of a short-term funding patch. “Do you end up somewhere significantly different enough than the standard omnibus at Christmas time? No one has been insightful enough … to articulate.”
Other Republicans like Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) are viewed as likely to oppose any short-term funding bill. Luna has been absent from Washington after recently giving birth, but has previously indicated she would return if her vote changed the outcome.
And while McCarthy has won over Freedom Caucus members like Reps. Bob Good (R-Va.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) and Chip Roy (R-Texas), each have made clear that their support is conditional on the bill including a certain number of cuts as well as border security policies, all of which would prevent passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Good is urging McCarthy to put a bill that paired the two issues on the floor in a bid to put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer.
“Then Schumer gets to decide whether or not he wants to shut down the government or shut down the border,” Good added, while acknowledging he didn’t know if McCarthy has won over enough of the right flank yet to even pass that strategy through the House.
When asked about supporting a short-term bill, Roy replied that it “depends on what it looks like.”
Even some of McCarthy’s allies acknowledge they don’t currently have the votes to pass a partisan stopgap, even as many pan the Senate’s bipartisan plan that advanced in the upper chamber Tuesday night.
“We don’t have the votes for any CR on the Republican side,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.).
Behind closed doors, McCarthy made his case for a short-term funding bill by warning his members that a shutdown would empower President Joe Biden, who the speaker argued wants a funding lapse so he can blame the GOP, according to Republicans familiar with internal meeting discussions.
And a CR is only part of their problem. GOP leadership is also trying to quell opposition to four full-year spending bills that would fund the departments of Agriculture, State, Defense and Homeland Security, respectively.
Even if they manage to pass all those bills, Senate leaders are pushing far different spending levels than McCarthy and his conference. The speaker also privately bashed the Senate bill, pointing out it lacked additional border security while including Ukraine funding, according to lawmakers in the room. That signaled to his members that he wouldn’t consider the bipartisan Senate version.
Publicly, GOP leaders like Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) dodged questions Wednesday on whether they have enough votes to pass the short-term spending bill. However, whip efforts in the House are usually fluid.
Scalise told reporters during a press conference they are having “a lot of really good conservations,” while Emmer replied that it is “an ongoing process.”