McCarthy unsure if proposed short-term funding bill will pass as key sticking points remain

House GOP groups on Sunday proposed an agreement on a short-term funding bill.

September 18, 2023, 1:36 PM

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Monday he's unsure a proposed short-term funding measure to avert a government shutdown for at least a month will have enough votes to pass.

Members from both sides of the House Republican Conference on Sunday outlined a continuing resolution to keep the government open until Oct. 31, as well as a 8% funding cut to domestic agencies except for Veteran Affairs and the Pentagon spending and border security legislation.

But it doesn't include some key sticking points such as $24 billion more in aid for Ukraine, which many conservative House Republicans oppose or $16 billion in supplemental disaster relief, making it likely dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

There's also no guarantee it will pass the Republican-led House, as a growing number of Republican hard-liners voice their opposition to the deal.

Many members in the House Freedom Caucus have said they won't vote for a continuing resolution unless it had conservative policies attached, such as language to address "woke policies" and "weaponization of the DOJ." Others have said they won't support any continuing resolution.

"I don't know," McCarthy said Monday when asked if the measure will get across the finish line in his chamber. "This was a -- something devised by the bottom up. Let's see where it can get to."

"It's a good thing I love a challenge," McCarthy continued when asked about its prospects in the Senate. "Everyday will be a challenge. We've got a long week. We are not at September 30th yet but I'll tell everybody I've never seen anybody win a shutdown. You only put the power in the administration," he said, adding "We have to get together, figure it out, and move forward."

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy talks to reporters as the arrives at the Capitol on Sept. 18, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The short-term funding deal bargaining was led by GOP Reps. Dusty Johnson, House Freedom Caucus chair Scott Perry, Stephanie Bice, Chip Roy and Kelly Armstrong.

"Congress must keep government open and secure the border. That's why we've worked with leaders of the House Freedom Caucus to introduce a 31-day continuing resolution laser-focused on fixing the crisis at our southern border," Johnson, Bice and Armstrong, of the Republican Main Street Caucus, said in a statement Sunday.

"Over the next several days, we'll work together to build support for this CR, to pass the defense appropriations bill and to make progress on other appropriations bills that bend the curve on out-of-control spending," they added in their statement.

The House will likely vote on this bill later this week.

McCarthy can only afford to lose four Republican votes, but at least a dozen conservatives have signaled they would vote no on the measure.

Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., issued a strong rebuke of the continuing resolution and of McCarthy in a statement on Monday, calling the speaker a "weak leader."

"Unfortunately, real leadership takes courage and willingness to fight for the country, not for power and a picture on a wall," Spartz said. "The Republican House is failing the American people again and pursuing a path of gamesmanship and circus. Neither Republicans nor Democrats have the backbone to challenge our corrupt swamp that is bankrupting our children and grandchildren.

Rep. Cory Miller tweeted out on X (formally known as Twitter), said he was a "HARD NO!" based on what he'd been hearing about the deal, noting he hadn't seen the finalized version.

His statement continued: "I'm sick of the DC backroom deals to appease 61 in the Senate and not going to play this game. Our job is to fund the U.S. and take care of the American people. I was not elected by overseas interests like others. Enough is Enough!"

Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina shared Mills' sentiment, tweeting: "I'm with Cory. No CR. Pass the damn approps bills. Roll back the crazy bureaucracy to pre-COVID levels. Now."

Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana tweeted: "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. We were assured in January that we weren't going to use the Democrats' gimmicks to fund government and that we would deliver the 12 appropriations bills, thereby funding government responsibly and transparently, which is why I will be voting against the CR this week," his statement on X concluded.

GOP Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona and Matt Gaetz of Florida also have said they'd vote against.