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McCarthy running out of options to stop shutdown

by The Associated Press | September 19, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., stops for reporters' questions about passing a funding bill and avoiding a government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. McCarthy is trying to win support from right-wing Republicans by including spending cuts and conservative proposals for border security and immigration. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Speaker Kevin McCarthy is running out of options as he races Monday to come up with a plan to keep the federal government from shutting down as even a proposal to include hardline border security provisions wasn't enough to appease the far-right flank in his Republican House majority.

The speaker told his Republican conference they should be prepared to stay through this weekend to pass a stopgap measure, called a continuing resolution, that would keep government offices open past the Sept. 30 deadline. But many are already bracing for the heavy political fallout of a federal shutdown.

"I've told all of Congress you're not going to go home. We're going to continue to work through this," McCarthy said Monday at the Capitol. "Things that are tough sometimes are worth it."

He also suggested time is still on his side and panned the idea of compromising with Democrats as he tries to pass the annual spending measures on his own, saying there were "a lot of good ideas" still coming from Republicans.

"This isn't the 30th -- we've got a long ways to go," he said.

The speaker on a Sunday night call with House Republicans pitched a Thursday vote on passing a one-month funding bill that was negotiated between the hard-right House Freedom Caucus and a group of pragmatic-minded conservatives known as the Main Street Caucus, according to those with knowledge of the call.

McCarthy called the package a "bottom-up" approach, and it was intended to win support from the conservative wing of the Republican Conference by including a 1 percent cut to last year's spending levels as well as a slew of Republican proposals for border security and immigration. In order to protect Republican spending priorities for defense, veteran and disaster relief, it cuts other spending by more than 8 percent.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in a floor speech said, "Last night's proposal in the House can be boiled down to two words: Slapdash, reckless."

"Slapdash, because it's not a serious proposal for avoiding a shutdown, and reckless because if passed would cause immense harm to so many priorities that help the American people," he said.

With the Senate controlled by Democrats who will not accept any of the conservative options, the best hope McCarthy has at this point is to simply pass a measure to kickstart debate with the other chamber. But even that route is uncertain with time dwindling to strike a deal.

McCarthy planned to hold a vote on a Department of Defense spending bill Wednesday, then the stopgap funding measure the next day.

"There's quite a few people that are against it right now," said Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Oklahoma, leader of the Republican Study Committee, the largest conservative faction in the House, adding that he was still considering the proposal and that a lot of work was happening "behind the scenes" to get the votes to pass it.

Print Headline: McCarthy running out of options to stop shutdown


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