Members of the House Freedom Caucus endangered House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) plan to avert a shutdown before the House even returned from August recess. Now the House speaker is going to comedically desperate lengths to urge them away from mucking up the appropriations process upon return.
Earlier this month, McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that they’d tentatively discussed passing a short term spending bill to avoid a shutdown when money runs out at the end of September. McCarthy privately told members of his caucus that he believed a stopgap funding bill might be necessary to buy the party some time. In the weeks leading up to the August recess, his right-flank began flirting with a shutdown by passing a stack of dead-on-arrival appropriations bills stuffed with culture war riders, thus significantly delaying the process.
Risking financial crisis for the sake of shoving right-wing grievances and spending cut soundbites into the news cycle has become Republican hardliners’ go-to power flex in this 118th Congress. This time, they’re using the normal appropriations process to lard up spending bills with provisions that seek to curtail abortion access and LGBTQ rights. Earlier this week, another member of the House Freedom Caucus announced his intentions of, upon return, attaching an amendment to the 2024 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriation bill that would cut funding from the prosecutors who have indicted Donald Trump.
These appropriations bills have no chance of passing in the Senate and it’s unclear if they’d even pass in the House if McCarthy can’t get his entire caucus in line behind them. Freedom Caucus members have already announced they won’t support the leadership-proposed continuing resolution to keep the government open, either.
And so, McCarthy’s options to avoid a shutdown are limited. He has already tried to dangle a Joe Biden impeachment inquiry in front of hardliners, but Freedom Caucus members see through it.
“We are not going to be distracted by a shiny object saying, ‘if you don’t get this continuing resolution passed, we won’t be able to pursue the impeachment inquiry,’” Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) said Monday. “That’s nonsense.”
And so a desperate McCarthy reaches for the one thing more even more precious to far-right members: Hunter Biden.
Per The Hill:
He cautioned that the probes into Hunter Biden and the Biden family’s foreign business dealings — which McCarthy said could soon develop into an impeachment inquiry as a “natural step forward” — would be halted.
“So I would actually like to have a short-term CR, only to make our arguments stronger,” McCarthy said on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures.” “If we shut down, all the government shuts it down, investigation and everything else. It hurts the American public.”
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