By STEPHEN GROVES and LISA MASCARO (Associated Press)
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Kevin McCarthy was running out of options Monday as he advanced a plan to prevent a federal government shutdown, but even including tough border security provisions didn’t help. not enough to appease the far-right flank in his mandate. Republican majority in the House.
The speaker is trying to convince his Republican conference that a shutdown will have serious political consequences as he prepares to vote to pass a stopgap measure, called a continuing resolution, that would keep government offices open after the Sept. 30 deadline . GOP leaders are preparing for a vote by Thursday, but McCarthy warns he will keep House lawmakers in Washington until the weekend. Regardless, many are already preparing for a week-long shutdown.
“I told the entire Congress that you are not going home. We will continue to work on this issue,” McCarthy said Monday on Capitol Hill. “Things that are sometimes difficult are worth it. »
He also suggested that time was still on his side and criticized the idea of compromising with Democrats as he tries to pass the annual spending measures himself, saying there was still ” lots of good ideas” coming from the Republicans.
“It’s not the 30th – we have a long way to go,” he said.
There is also no hope of passing all of the appropriations bills on the congressional agenda before then. Even a defense appropriations bill — usually easy to pass with Republicans — is stalled in the House because Republicans oppose giving more money to Ukraine.
The speaker, in a Sunday evening phone call with House Republicans, outlined the month-long funding bill that was negotiated between the far-right House Freedom Caucus and a group of conservatives at the pragmatic spirit known as the Main Street Caucus, according to those familiar with the matter. call.
McCarthy called the package a “bottom-up” approach. The goal was to win support from the conservative wing of the Republican Conference by cutting last year’s overall spending levels by 1 percent and including a series of Republican proposals on border security and immigration. But to protect current spending levels on Republican priorities of defense, veterans and disaster relief, the government is cutting other spending by more than 8 percent.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a speech that the House proposal “can be summed up in two words: sloppy, reckless.”
“Slapdash, because it is not a serious proposal to avoid a shutdown, and reckless because if passed, it would cause immense harm to so many priorities that help the American people,” he said.
With the Senate controlled by Democrats who, like some Republicans, will not accept conservative options, McCarthy’s best hope at this point is simply to pass a measure to restart debate with the other chamber. But even that path is doubtful given that time is running out and McCarthy is struggling to push his conference to avoid a shutdown.
“There are quite a few people opposed to it right now,” Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., head of the Republican Study Committee, the House’s largest conservative faction, said of the last proposal, adding that he was still considering this. He said a lot of work was happening “behind the scenes” to get the votes needed to pass it.
The leaders, along with members of some of the “five families” — the various conservative factions that make up the House Republican majority — met later Monday behind closed doors in the president’s office.
McCarthy, who has just eight business days left in session before funding runs out, appears poised to push for a vote this week on both a continuing resolution and the Defense appropriations bill, even though he they cannot be adopted.
“The best path forward – to get conservative solutions, to cut spending, to hold this administration accountable, to find solutions at the border – is to move forward with what these guys have put in place ” said Rep. Garrett Graves, a Republican from Louisiana. who is one of McCarthy’s top lieutenants.
Although McCarthy still says he has days left before the end of the government’s fiscal year, he has also tried to warn his party that a government shutdown risks backfiring for Republicans politically.
“I’ve been through shutdowns and I’ve never seen anyone win a shutdown, because when you shut down, you’re giving all your power to the administration,” McCarthy said in an interview with Fox News on Sunday.
“How are you going to win your arguments to secure the border if border agents are not paid? How will you win the arguments to eliminate wokeness from the Department of Defense? If even our own troops aren’t paid? You have no strength there.
But McCarthy faces a group of Republicans willing to endure a prolonged shutdown. A handful of Republican lawmakers quickly took to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, shortly after Sunday’s call to criticize the proposed package, even with spending cuts and border measures, as terribly insufficient.
One of the Freedom Caucus lawmakers who helped craft the proposal, Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., said he fielded phone calls coming into his office Monday and heard the frustration of people critical of the package, pushing him to wait more. conservative cuts.
He also wasn’t bothered by the prospect of closure.
“People can live without our government for a while,” he said. “The sun rises every day. People live their lives. Life goes on.”
But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a memo to the business community Monday, warning that a prolonged shutdown could cause disruption across the country.
“Individuals and businesses rely on the discretionary functions of government every day,” the Chamber wrote. “From passports and licenses to clinical trials and contractors, a well-functioning economy requires a functioning government. »
The Biden administration is also highlighting the potential harm of stopping funding. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Monday on CNBC: “We have a good, strong economy and creating a situation that could lead to a loss of momentum is something we don’t need. »
McCarthy could potentially turn to House Democrats to pass a stopgap measure if he were willing to strip conservative policy victories from a funding bill.
House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries met with McCarthy on Monday, but several members on the right are threatening to try to oust the president if they forge a partnership to pass a continuing resolution.
Jeffries said he would only support a “clean” funding bill without Republican extras, and was particularly critical of the GOP’s idea to fund an “ineffective medieval border wall” as part of the funding stopgap. .
He said: “It’s all up to the Republicans right now. »
Associated Press writer Fatima Hussein in Washington contributed to this report.