'Spending Cuts & No Blank Check for Ukraine': US House Speaker's Bid to Avoid Gov’t Shutdown
12:13 GMT 18.09.2023 (Updated: 12:17 GMT 18.09.2023)
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been seeking to drum up GOP support for a continuing resolution to extend government funding beyond the September 30 deadline to avoid a potential shutdown. However, he has faced opposition from the House Freedom Caucus that resists a stopgap funding bill that fails to address government spending.
The race is on to avert a US government shutdown
before the looming September 30 deadline, with Kevin McCarthy and his allies having reportedly come up with a new short-term spending plan they hope to push through the House of Representatives amid the funding logjam.
The deal that the US House Speaker purportedly presented to Republican lawmakers in a private conference call on Sunday evening would extend the deadline to fund the government until October 31, and was brainstormed jointly by a coalition representing the House Freedom Caucus, generally considered as the most conservative, and the more mainstream Main Street Caucus.
The stopgap deal presupposes:
Nearly 8 percent spending cuts affecting most federal agencies, barring defense and veterans spending, and disaster relief.
No emergency military funding for Ukraine, as pushed for by the Biden administration in its supplemental funding request to Congress in August.
Cuts to additional disaster aid, including relief for victims of the recent devastating Maui wildfires, and the Florida hurricane.
Stricter border policies, such as the May House-approved GOP H.R. 2 immigration Bill, seeking to revive a spate of border policies espoused by the Trump administration. These include the construction of a border wall, the resurrection of the “Remain in Mexico” practice pertaining to asylum-seekers, but without the mandatory need for companies to confirm their employees' legally eligibility to work in the United States through a program known as E-Verify
The proposed agreement also reportedly presupposes passing an appropriations bill to fund the Department of Defense (DOD) for fiscal 2024 in tandem with the continuing resolution (CR) bill, according to a cited GOP source.
“We’ll bring it to the floor, win or lose, and show the American public who’s for the Department of Defense, who’s for the military, who’s for giving them a pay raise,” Mr. McCarthy said on Sunday, adding that “any time a Republican wants to hold back and stop the floor from working when Republicans have the majority, that puts us in a weaker position to win in the end of the day.”
Deal ‘Dead on Arrival’?
Republicans have reportedly slated a vote on the proposed plan Thursday, however, there is already resistance in their ranks to the continuing resolution deal from six lawmakers.
“For months, I have made it very clear that I will not be supporting a CR. And this week is no different. A CR is a continuation of Nancy Pelosi’s budget and Joe Biden’s policies,” wrote Montana Republican, Representative Matt Rosendale, on the X platform after the Sunday call.
Democrats wasted no time in dismissing the proposed plan, with Representative Rosa DeLauro, senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, saying that House Republicans were "focused on introducing extreme funding bills" that would "decrease resources to important allies like Ukraine."
With the GOP holding a narrow majority in the House, McCarthy can only afford to lose the support of four Republicans. But when it comes to the Democratic-led Senate, it's highly unlikely the proposed plan might be accepted.
Weeks of intense negotiations aimed at averting a catastrophic default in the summer had resulted in US President Joe Biden signing a bill into law raising the US debt ceiling in June. US lawmakers passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act, an agreement reached between Biden and House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for limited fiscal reforms.
Earlier, amid opposition to a continuing resolution by the House Freedom Caucus
, Kevin McCarthy said nobody in Congress wants a government shutdown
. The Freedom Caucus had released a statement voicing opposition to the potential stopgap funding bill that does nothing to address the government spending issue, adding that any “blank check” for Ukraine
in any supplemental appropriations bill would also be rejected.
McCarthy, however, encouraged lawmakers to continue working on appropriations bills, as the clock is ticking away. Out of 12 appropriations bills that need to be approved and signed, only one measure has cleared the House so far, with the Senate passing none.