Shutdown Looms As McCarthy Stands Firm

A potential government shutdown seems imminent as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy stands firm, refusing to consider Senate legislation to keep the government operational. This comes amidst internal division among House Republicans over an alternative plan.

The deadlock in Congress comes ahead of a potential federal shutdown, which could affect the salaries of nearly 2 million government employees and an equivalent number of active-duty military and reservists. It could also result in layoffs and limited government services.

While the Senate has proposed a bipartisan bill to fund the government until November 17th, allowing extended negotiations and allocating $6bn each for Ukraine and US disaster relief, the House is taking a different approach. The House proposes voting on four of the annual spending bills to rally enough Republican support for a short-term funding solution that enhances US-Mexico border security. In a CNBC interview, McCarthy remains optimistic, saying, “Put your money on me; we’re going to get this done.”

However, the tensions were palpable in a private Republican meeting on Thursday, where a heated exchange occurred between McCarthy and Florida congressman Matt Gaetz. Gaetz accused McCarthy of sponsoring negative online campaigns against him, an accusation McCarthy denied. Gaetz’s confrontational tactics did not sit well with some of McCarthy’s supporters.

Amidst this internal discord, McCarthy is under pressure to devise a plan to avert a shutdown and garner Republican backing. He informed Republicans of his intention to unveil a stopgap plan, also known as a continuing resolution (CR), by Friday. Concurrently, he aims to extract concessions from Senate Democrats.

However, as the deadline approaches, some Republicans remain non-committal until they review the proposal, while others contemplate siding with Democrats on a shutdown-prevention bill without McCarthy’s endorsement.

With his leadership questioned, McCarthy finds it challenging to negotiate with Senate Democrats. Furthermore, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer criticized McCarthy for deviating from a previously agreed-upon spending plan, accusing him of risking a shutdown to appease certain Republican factions.

President Joe Biden added to the pressure on McCarthy, suggesting that he must decide between retaining his position and serving national interests. As a precaution, both the White House and the Department of Homeland Security have notified their staff to brace for a potential shutdown.