House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) once again failed to advance his party’s own short-term spending package after 21 Republican hardliners broke ranks and voted with Democrats to pass it just over a day before the government shutdown to mitigate efforts.
It was just the latest setback for McCarthy as he repeatedly tries – and fails – to tame the far-right in his caucus as they hold the party hostage and prepare for his ouster.
The short-term spending plan would have kept the government open for another 30 days while imposing sweeping 30 percent cuts to hundreds of federal programs, crippling everything from federal safety net programs to NASA.
The symbolic bill, already passed when it arrived in the Senate, was intended to gain leverage in budget negotiations and give the impression that Republicans are on a united front. Rather, it was a bitter reminder of the open civil war between House Republicans and McCarthy’s inability to build consensus within his caucus.
McCarthy’s misfortune could become a victory for the bipartisan Senate plan introduced earlier this week that would avoid such cuts and also include funding for Ukraine, drawing the ire of far-right Republicans.
On Friday, McCarthy bristled at the idea of adopting the Senate package, likening the move to a “capitulation to liberals.”
“Why do you assume that I should do what the Senate is doing when the Senate has done nothing and the House continues to act?” McCarthy huffed.
Now the speaker finds himself in an increasingly precarious position as he continually fails to pass any of the party’s spending packages and faces increasing impatience from senators on both sides of the aisle as well as politically vulnerable moderate Republicans in the House.
“I’m really worried that we’re going to fail and end up in a shutdown,” said leadership ally Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN). according to Politico. “We take our votes and then just sit down and try to work things out.”
It remains to be seen how McCarthy will adjust his strategy after the series of defeats, as talk of a deal with Democrats in the House of Representatives grows louder and questions arise about how Republicans will emerge from the shutdown of their own making.