McCarthy won’t take up Senate’s stopgap in House amid looming shutdown

September 29, 2023

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Thursday vowed to not take up Senate legislation designed to keep the government running past Saturday.

McCarthy’s vow came as the Senate voted 76-22 to begin debate on a 45-day continuing resolution (CR), stopgap legislation that would avert a government shutdown at midnight Saturday by extending the deadline to November 17 while lawmakers carry on with budget negotiations.

“I still got time. I’ve got time to do other things,” McCarthy told reporters Thursday evening at the Capitol, adding, “At the end of the day, we’ll get it all done.”

While the Senate moved forward with a stopgap spending measure, the House on Thursday took up four appropriations bills that are unlikely to become law and cannot prevent a shutdown on their own even if they did.

On Friday, House Republicans voted 218-210 to advance a their own GOP-crafted stopgap bill, clearing a procedural hurdle, though such legislation would be dead on arrival in the Senate. However, it’s meant to open negotiations with Democrats in the upper chamber one day before the shutdown deadline.

In the aftermath of the vote it was unclear how many far-right Republican hardliners would line up against its ultimate passage. Conservatives like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) who’s engaged in bitter face-offs with the Speaker, whave said they won’t vote for continuing resolution no matter what’s in it.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) called on House Republicans Thursday to approve the Senate’s CR, asserting that if they don’t, they will “own” another government shutdown.

That assertion echoes the sentiment of Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has reminded his colleagues that government shutdown have historically been “a loser for Republicans, politically.”

A government shutdown would stymie services in such areas as food safety, air travel, national parks, and the military where roughly 2 million active-duty military troops and reservists as well as two million civilian employees could be furloughed. 

The last government shutdown occurred in December 2018-January 2019 and stretched on for five weeks in a dispute between then-President Trump and Democratic Congressional leadership over funding his 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: McCarthy speaking to reporters on Tuesday

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