WASHINGTON — Far-right Republicans are sending a clear message to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy that they will not at all water down their demands for spending cuts in government funding legislation in the wake of its impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, even as a shutdown looms. at the end of the month.
“Zero. Zero. They have absolutely no connection,” said Rep. Bob Good, R-Va.
“The impeachment inquiry is justified,” he said. “But that has absolutely nothing to do with the spending battle. We can do both at the same time, so – absolutely not connected in any way.
Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., said the impeachment inquiry was “long overdue” and “should have been done a long time ago.”
But he said the investigation and government funding are “two separate issues; completely different.”
“It doesn’t matter,” said Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., another McCarthy critic, when asked whether the impeachment inquiry would make him more likely to support the speaker in elections. fights against spending. “So why would I change unless I really don’t prioritize spending issues and debt?”
Biden, speaking at a campaign reception Wednesday evening, suggested that the impeachment inquiry and the fight over defunding the government were closely linked.
“At first they just wanted to impeach me, and now they want to impeach me because they want to shut down the government,” Biden said.
The demands of GOP hardliners leave McCarthy in a bind, with a paper-thin Republican majority in the House, time running out and no realistic chance of reaching a full-year government funding deal before the deadline of the 30th. September to avoid a closure.
“With or without impeachment, we knew that government funding ran out on September 30,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. “There is no excuse for not reviewing our individual spending bills to date.”
Broadly speaking, conservatives want spending cuts below the levels agreed to by Congress earlier this year, as well as policy provisions that have no realistic chance of passing the Democratic-led Senate. These Republicans also say they will not vote for a continuing resolution, or CR, to temporarily avoid a shutdown. And they insist that McCarthy must not pass one with Democratic votes or it could have consequences for his presidency.
The Senate, meanwhile, is following a bipartisan path and voted 85-12 on Tuesday to advance the first funding bill.
House conservatives rebel against short-term bill
McCarthy pushed for a short-term bill so the House GOP can continue to pass its own funding bills to strengthen its bargaining power with the Senate. But some Republicans are skeptical.
“I’m not going to vote for a CR that maintains current spending levels and current spending priorities,” said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus. He added that he could support a 24-hour bill “to finish something” – but not a bill lasting 30 days or more.
Roy also made clear he would not accept McCarthy relying on Democratic votes for a short-term funding bill to buy time on appropriations. “It’s no,” he said.
Asked Wednesday whether imposing a short-term measure could threaten McCarthy’s presidency, he said, “I don’t think it would happen because it would be extremely stupid.” »
Gaetz, an outspoken opponent of McCarthy, said if the speaker passes a continuing resolution with the help of Democratic votes, he might consider making a motion to overturn it — any member can force a vote.
“Yes,” he replied when asked if this scenario could trigger an evacuation motion. “It’s entirely possible.”
Former Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., one of the conservatives who initially opposed McCarthy’s bid for president, expressed skepticism about the timing of the announcement. impeachment inquiry, suggesting McCarthy did it now to distract conservatives from the funding fight.
“I think the timing is interesting on this,” Biggs said. “This could probably be seen by some as a diversion.”
Asked if a motion to quash should be a tool that stays on the table, he said, “Yes, absolutely.”
Biggs’ colleague in Arizona and the Freedom Caucus, Rep. Paul Gosar, praised McCarthy for pursuing the impeachment inquiry. But he said he agreed with Gaetz that a CR was a failure and could result in the speaker’s ouster.
” It’s possible. I’ll tell you right now, I don’t want anything to do with this CR. This dates from the Pelosi years; she pre-funded a lot of this,” Gosar said in an interview, referring to current spending levels. “From my perspective, how can you challenge a future Congress by loading it with money?”
McCarthy responded to Gaetz on Tuesday, accusing the Florida Republican of “working with” Democrats like Rep. Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, to impeach him. The speaker alluded to the ethics investigation involving sex trafficking laws in which Gaetz was involved.
“And the one thing I say very clearly: he can threaten as much as he wants. I will not intervene in the independent ethics committee to influence it at all,” McCarthy said.
Some Republicans say they have confidence in McCarthy to meet the various challenges of impeachment and government funding – and keep his job.
“He has threaded the needle in the past,” said Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif. “I think if I was a betting man I wouldn’t bet against him on this one.”