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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy launched an impeachment inquiry this week to show the far right in his conference that he was listening. He also calculated that it could help fund the government and avoid a shutdown at the end of the month.
It doesn’t seem to work.
Hours after his announcement Tuesday, members of the House Freedom Caucus insisted that the impeachment inquiry did not change their calculations on spending.
“These are two separate conversations and two separate actions by Congress,” said Tennessee Rep. Andy Ogles, a member of the Freedom Caucus. “There is no leverage in an impeachment proceeding. And if someone tries to use it to get votes for a CR (a short-term spending bill known as of continuing resolution), there will be hell to pay.”
Ogles and the rest of the Freedom Caucus represent the threat that has loomed over McCarthy, R-Calif., for months: accept the demands of the far right, or lose his chairmanship.
On Wednesday morning, McCarthy presented a plan to his members behind closed doors. Under the plan, they would continue to pass individual spending bills to present a united GOP front to respond to bipartisan bills coming out of the Senate. But of the 12 annual appropriations bills, the House has so far passed only one. McCarthy told House Republicans that the chamber should pass a CR to avoid an Oct. 1 shutdown.
House leaders planned to move the spending process forward Wednesday by holding votes on Defense Department funding. But by midday, the plan began to fall apart.
Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, said it was a sign that lawmakers could be moving toward a shutdown.
“Fasten your seat belts, because it’s going to be like the show,” Simpson told reporters. “If you can’t pass defense, you can’t pass any defense.”
Members of the Freedom Caucus are calling for overall spending to return to fiscal 2022 levels, as they pushed for when McCarthy was elected president. These levels are lower than those agreed to by McCarthy and President Biden during debt ceiling negotiations this spring.
They also say they will oppose any stopgap bill that does not include additional funding for border security, changes in Pentagon policies and measures to address alleged political biases in the Department of Defense. Justice.
Today, the House Freedom Caucus took an official position on a continuing resolution to defund the government if the appropriations process is not completed by September 30: pic.twitter.com/j6KRTLPUBq
– Home Freedom Caucus (@freedomcaucus) August 21, 2023
Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., a member of the Freedom Caucus, said he would oppose advancing any of the 12 appropriations bills until he sees the numbers from main expenses “which are satisfactory” for each of them.
With a slim majority, McCarthy can’t afford to lose fiscal conservatives unless he courts Democratic votes — a move that would further infuriate the group already threatening his jobs.
Andrew Clyde, a member of the Freedom Caucus, said Tuesday that passing a CR without conservative concessions “would endanger Speaker McCarthy’s leadership.”
Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz spoke Tuesday to warn that McCarthy was “not compliant” with the deal he made in January to be elected president. Gaetz cited the votes on the 12 spending bills as one of the items on which McCarthy failed to deliver. But it was the conservatives who forced the Speaker of Parliament to table one of these bills in July, when their demands made it clear that the leaders did not have the votes needed to pass the bill.
Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., a member of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters he wanted the speaker to explain in writing how the spending puzzle fits together. He said the House could stay in session for the rest of the month and pass bills one by one at the level conservatives want.
Good said the debate could stretch past the Sept. 30 deadline into October, when federal agencies will run out of money.
“There won’t be much impact if we do this,” he said.
Representative of the Chairman of the Rules Committee, Tom Cole disagreed that a shutdown would have no impact, saying “it’s a big deal and the American people will notice, and the problem is if you run into it, no matter what be the reason, it won’t be what you’re talking about.” , you will talk about the stop.”
McCarthy’s own allies admitted it was unclear how they could avoid a shutdown, but argued it was important to secure incremental victories now – some spending bills passed the House Bedroom.
Arkansas Republican Rep. Steve Womack noted that “the margins are slim” with several House Republicans absent this week, including Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who is undergoing treatment for cancer. That adds to what he calls a “difficult spot” in keeping all Republican lawmakers together.
Womack said passing certain bills in the House also “sends a signal to the Senate that we are serious about what we are doing and that we have solutions that they need to listen to.”
He said the Conservatives’ “non-verbal” communication at the meeting indicated they were not sold and said “remember, it doesn’t take much”.
Rep. Patrick McHenry, a close McCarthy ally who was a key negotiator during the debt ceiling negotiations, was more optimistic about the chances that Republicans could get on the same page.
“At the end of the day … the only thing that will be enacted into law is what we negotiated as a direct result of an increase in the debt ceiling,” McHenry told reporters. “We negotiated hard caps that we have to respect. And if (some senators) want to spend more and the House Republicans want to spend less than the caps, well, where do we end up? The caps. I think that this is a reasonable solution.” result of this thing. “
The speaker proposed combining three bills that fund security-related programs – Defense, Military Construction and VA and Homeland Security – with emergency funding for disaster relief following the recent fires and storms that have wreaked havoc in states across the country.
The House is expected to sit for another 11 days before the end of the fiscal year. There is little evidence that McCarthy’s strategy of trying to put out fires day after day to try to get his members on the same page will avoid a shutdown.
“Taking down the government is the political equivalent of putting a gun to your head and saying ‘do as I say or I’ll shoot’ – you get hurt, you’re not going to move towards your goal,” Cole warned .