WASHINGTON — The House appears no closer to funding the government and averting a shutdown than it was when lawmakers left more than a month ago for a weeklong recess in August.
House Republicans have remained locked in a stalemate over government spending, with far-right lawmakers refusing to compromise on conservative demands that have no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Deep divisions within the House Republican conference emerged as a procedural vote to begin debate on a critical defense spending bill — one of 11 appropriations bills that Congress must pass to avoid a shutdown – was postponed due to threats from the resisters to block the vote.
“I got frustrated with some people at the conference,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said at a news conference Thursday after a closed-door meeting in which he urged Republicans to avoid the shutdown. Lawmakers must find a path to avoid a shutdown by September 30, when government funding expires.
As the country heads into a shutdown with less than 10 working days left, hard-line conservatives haven’t quite figured out what exactly they’re asking for. McCarthy complained Thursday that he had to delay the defense spending bill, even though he has “not had a single complaint from any member about what is wrong with this bill.”
Here’s the latest on the fight against the government shutdown.
Related: Is a government shutdown imminent? What Congress needs to do (quickly) to avoid one.
Deep divisions remain among House Republicans as the shutdown approaches
Tensions within the House Republican conference appeared to reach a boiling point Thursday during a closed-door meeting in which McCarthy spoke out against a shutdown.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., threatened to introduce a motion to vacate on Tuesday — a move to oust McCarthy from his role as speaker — if McCarthy introduced a short-term spending bill in the House. During the meeting, McCarthy reportedly ignored the challenges and practically dared his detractors to try to oust him.
“Threats don’t matter, and sometimes people do these things for personal reasons and that’s fine,” McCarthy said at the news conference.
These threats among House Republicans have hindered the House’s progress toward preventing a shutdown. Before Congress went into its August recess, House Republicans banked on a vote on a generally uncontroversial farm spending bill amid divisions between ultra-conservative lawmakers and the more moderate wing of the GOP. . The House felt a familiar sense of déjà vu Wednesday when a procedural vote on a defense spending bill, also typically uncontroversial, had to be delayed.
“I haven’t heard many members describe to me what’s wrong with the (defense spending bill). Some members are quite honest in saying that they hold it as leverage. I don’t think that’s the appropriate tactic,” Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-D., chairman of the Republican Main Street Caucus and considered a GOP dealmaker, told reporters Thursday.
House GOP expresses frustration with hardline conservatives: ‘They’re smoking something really good’
Moderate Republicans have expressed frustration with opponents over their refusal to compromise and lack of clarity on their demands as the Sept. 30 deadline approaches.
Among the few clear demands from the House Freedom Caucus, a loose coalition of the House’s most conservative lawmakers, are increased security at the southern border and provisions targeting the Pentagon’s “woke” policies, which primarily concern the department’s abortion policies of Defence. Such requests, acknowledged Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., are dead on arrival in the Senate.
“There is a false sense of reality here. They think whatever they ask for and leave the House … we’ll ask the Senate to do it,” Bacon told reporters Thursday. “They’re smoking something really good.”
Despite these concerns and attempts by leadership, Freedom Caucus members say their approach has not changed.
“Nothing has changed from my perspective,” Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., a member of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters Thursday. “We must approve them by implementing our priorities legislatively and politically.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: McCarthy, House Republicans seethe as government shutdown nears