McCarthy Dares His Critics to Reject Plan, and They Do

Government shutdown 'all but certain' now after latest failed vote
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 29, 2023 1:40 PM CDT
McCarthy Dares His Critics to Reject Plan, and They Do
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks to the media about efforts to pass appropriations bills and avert a looming government shutdown at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Sept. 29, 2023.   (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's last-ditch plan to keep the federal government temporarily open collapsed on Friday as hard-right holdouts rejected the package, per the AP. McCarthy's right-flank Republicans refused to support the bill despite its steep spending cuts of nearly 30% to many agencies and severe border security provisions, calling it insufficient. The White House and Democrats rejected the Republican approach as too extreme. The vote was 198-232, with 21 hard-right Republicans voting to sink the package. A shutdown this weekend is now "all but certain," per the New York Times.

The bill's failure a day before Saturday's deadline to fund the government leaves few options left to prevent a shutdown that will furlough federal workers, keep the military working without pay, and disrupt programs and services for millions of Americans. The outcome also puts McCarthy's speakership in serious jeopardy, leaving him with almost no political leverage to lead the House at a critical moment that has pushed the government into crisis. Ahead of voting, the Republican speaker all but dared his holdout colleagues to oppose the package. The House bill would have kept operations open through Oct. 31.

"Every member will have to go on record where they stand," McCarthy said at the Capitol. Asked if he had the votes, McCarthy quipped, "We'll see." As soon as the floor debate began, McCarthy's chief Republican critic, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, announced he would be voting against the package, calling its border security provisions insufficient and urging his colleagues to "not surrender." The Hill calls it a "significant—and embarrassing—defeat" for McCarthy.

(More government shutdown stories.)

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