TUESDAY, SEP 19, 2023 - 08:45 AM
A new theory has emerged on the hill... that conservative hardliners in the House are looking to provoke a government shutdown on Oct. 1 in order to force Kevin McCarthy out of the speakership.
As a quick refresher, McCarthy is now pushing for a 30-day Continuing Resolution (band-aid), which more than a dozen conservatives have argued against on the grounds that it continues to fund the Ukraine war and "woke" policies by the Biden administration. McCarthy appears to have just a four-vote margin in the House, with 'some Republicans likely to miss votes due to health issues.'
Let's review the evidence.
Conservative hardliners, of course, dragged out McCarthy's election as speaker for 15 rounds back in January, only relenting after he made a number of serious concessions.
McCarthy then cut a deal on a topline FY2024 spending number with President Joe Biden back in May, which angered his detractors in the Republican Conference.
The speaker later abandoned that agreement in the face of a conservative floor blockade, caving to the right and cutting $100 billion-plus from the annual spending bills as they demanded. Yet House Republican leaders have still been unable to pass next year's appropriations bills on the floor due to continuing GOP infighting.
Now his Republican critics are hammering McCarthy for not moving those same bills. The hardliners — and there's a big split among conservatives here — refuse to allow House GOP leaders to pass a stopgap funding package to avoid shutdown. They argue that to do so would continue current Biden administration policy — even if for a month. This includes a continuing resolution negotiated by House Freedom Caucus members.
So it's a Republican vs. Republican stalemate with McCarthy's future on the line.
The House Freedom Caucus, meanwhile, is just fine playing chicken. On Sunday, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) said on local television that after a 90 minute call with the Caucus, the group thinks DC is headed for "at least" a "10-day government shutdown."