Any hope on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s part of quietly passing a short-term spending bill to buy himself more time to wrangle his conference hardliners and avoid a shutdown was dashed on Monday by those very far-right members.
McCarthy told his caucus on a private call last week that he believed the passage of a continuing resolution to keep the government open would likely become necessary when the House returns from recess next month, signaling he didn’t think he could strongarm Freedom Caucus rebels into dropping their culture war grievances and spending cut gambits to pass next year’s budget appropriations bills before money runs out at the end of September.
The House Freedom Caucus came out against the plan for a stopgap spending bill today — unless it includes their preferred language on the border, laws that fuel their baseless FBI/DOJ “weaponization” hysteria and some changes to Pentagon policies, likely related to the rule that allows members of the military time to travel to get an abortion. Members of the far-right group didn’t offer specifics on the exact “woke” policy they take issue with.
Packing the Freedom Caucus’ proposals into a continuing resolution means McCarthy would have to get all House Republicans on board with the language in order for it to pass in the House as House Democrats would not support such a measure — House Democratic leadership already came out against the far-right members’ agenda today.
And so McCarthy finds himself navigating a now all-too-familiar dynamic: succumb to the hardliners’ hostage-taking and convince the rest of the caucus to do the same or get enough House Republicans on board with a bare-bones short-term spending bill that Democrats could support as well, both in the House and to get it through the upper chamber.
If McCarthy does work with Democrats again to get a stopgap bill through the lower chamber, Freedom Caucus members may use it as an opportunity to finally make good on their threats to oust him as speaker, an ultimatum that far-right members have raised repeatedly this year but one that has amounted to little more than noise.
While this line-walking has been a constant for McCarthy since before his speakership election in January, Democrats are getting a lot more vocal about calling the hardliners’ flexing out in real time, likely to avoid ambiguity about who is to blame for consistently bringing the nation to the verge of financial catastrophe.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) put out a statement shortly after the Freedom Caucus announced its intentions to continue risking a government shutdown: “House Republicans are determined to shutdown the government and crash our economy. We will fight these MAGA extremists every step of the way,” he said.
Upon announcing that he and McCarthy had agreed that passing a continuing resolution may be necessary next month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made it clear that acquiescing to far-right demands would be a losing battle for the House speaker: “If McCarthy follows the hard right and tries to do a partisan bill he’s going to lose,” Schumer said. “The hard right wants to shut down the government. But McCarthy knows that that would be a disaster not only for the country, but for his party.”
After the Freedom Caucus released their redlines on Monday, Schumer doubled down:
“If the House decides to go in a partisan direction it will lead to a Republican caused shutdown,” he said in a statement.
The Best Of TPM Today
Here’s what you should read this evening:
New from Josh Kovensky: Trump Agrees To $200K Bond In Georgia Election Case
Scoop from Emine Yücel: Expelled Tennessee Three-er Justin Jones Will Introduce Gun Control Bill In Special Session
Yesterday’s Most Read Story
The Plutocrats’ Low Energy Bark — Josh Marshall