House Hardliners Deliver Another Defeat to McCarthy

Defense funding bill is blocked, raising fears of a government shutdown
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 21, 2023 1:20 PM CDT
McCarthy Defeated Again in Vote on Defense Bill
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy walks from the chamber to his office just after House Republicans failed to advance their own defense bill for second time in a week at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy emerged with a spending cut plan to prevent a federal government shutdown by appeasing his hard-right flank, only to see it quickly collapse Thursday in a crushing defeat. His latest attempt to move ahead with a traditionally popular defense funding bill was shattered by a core group of Republican colleagues who refused to vote for the endangered speaker's plans. A test vote to advance the bill failed, 212-216, as a handful of Republicans joined with Democrats to stop it.

Once again, the House then came to a sudden standstill and declared itself in recess. A federal shutdown is looming Sept. 30, the end of the current budget year, if Congress cannot pass the bills needed to fund the government. McCarthy's strategy of repeatedly giving in to the hard-right conservatives is seemingly only emboldening them as a handful of GOP lawmakers, urged on by Donald Trump, the party's early front-runner for the 2024 presidential nomination, run roughshod over their own House majority, the AP reports.

Hardliners also blocked the bill on Tuesday, frustrating GOP colleagues. Politico reports that some House Republicans "erupted in fury" after Thursday's vote. "This is painful. It gives me a headache. This is a very difficult series of missteps by our conference," said Republican Rep. Steve Womack. Two lawmakers who voted yes on Tuesday, Reps. Eli Crane and Marjorie Taylor Greene, flipped to no on Thursday, the Washington Post reports. "Two people flipped, so I got to figure out how to fix that," McCarthy told reporters. (Read more government shutdown stories.)

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