House to vote on appropriations Tuesday amid looming shutdown

September 25, 2023

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Monday that Representatives will vote on an appropriations measure that would open debate on four fiscal 2024 spending bills.

The vote is set to occur just four days before a midnight September 30 deadline to fund the federal government or endure a government shutdown.

Prospects of avoiding a shutdown have grown dubious amid House GOP infighting that has at times this past week descended into f-bomb peppered threats. Congress left Washington on Thursday after right-wing hardliners iced a plan to work through the weekend to pass a short-term stopgap spending bill. In response, a visibly frustrated McCarthy slammed the far-right members of his caucus last week, saying they just want to “burn the place down.”

Rep. Garrett Graves (R-LA) said after a conference call Saturday with lawmakers that the holdouts in the GOP are “absolutely hallucinating” if the think they can wrap up work without the need for a temporary measure that many of them have verbally rejected.

While Graves insisted that it was important to “do everything we can to avoid a government shutdown,” one of the holdouts, Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT), recently shrugged off the prospect, telling reporters, “Life is going to go on.”

Over the weekend, President Biden pointed blame at a “small group of extreme Republicans” for threatening a potential shutdown.

And other House Republicans are noting that promises McCarthy made in January to secure the Speaker’s gavel are now coming back to bite him. Most significant among those promises may be allowing just one Representative to make a motion to vacate—essentially, calling for a “no confidence” vote against the Speaker to have him ousted. Before McCarthy, a motion to vacate required a majority vote from members of the Speaker’s party.

“This is the third major fight of the Congress: opening week, debt ceiling and now government funding,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC). “This was always going to be a battle.”

So far, though, at least two GOP moderates from New York—Reps. Mike Lawler and Mark Molinaro—said Thursday they’d be willing to team with House Democrats to force a vote on a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government.

If all House Democrats vote yes on a CR, it would take just five Republicans to join them to pass it. Meanwhile, former President Trump has been encouraging far-right Republicans like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to “hold the line” against voting for the CR.

Gaetz is among those who’ve been threatening to call for a motion to vacate McCarthy.

Biden said at a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner Saturday that a government shutdown “could impact everything from food safety to cancer research to Head Start programs for children. Funding the government is one of the most basic responsibilities of Congress. It’s time for Republicans to start doing the job America elected them to do.”

The last government shutdown occurred in December 2018-January 2019 and lasted for five weeks in a dispute between then-President Trump and Democratic Congressional leadership over funding his U.S.-Mexico border wall.

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, that shutdown—the nation’s longest ever—lowered the nation’s projected level of real GDP in the first quarter of 2019 by $8 billion, of which the CBO estimated only $5 billion was recovered.

PHOTO: @SpeakerMcCarthy

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