Turner accuses House GOP 'holdouts' of 'voting with Nancy Pelosi' as shutdown deadline looms

"Republicans need to vote for Republican bills," he said.

September 24, 2023, 11:16 AM

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, on Sunday accused House Republican renegades of "voting with Nancy Pelosi" as a handful of conservatives in the chamber continue to rebuff Speaker Kevin McCarthy's approach to the government budget in his efforts to avoid a shutdown at month's end.

"The holdouts keep saying to Kevin McCarthy, 'Don’t bring bipartisan bills to the floor, we don't want to use Democrat votes to try to avert a shutdown,' but they're using Democrat votes to try to cause a shutdown. And these individuals, these Republican holdouts, are voting with Nancy Pelosi against Republican bills that have been brought to the floor that will -- could trigger a shutdown," Turner told ABC "This Week" co-anchor Martha Raddatz, invoking the name of the speaker emerita who is a favorite target of the GOP.

"I think Kevin's gonna continue to negotiate until the end, but Republicans need to vote for Republican bills and we can avert the shutdown," Turner said.

A splinter group of GOP lawmakers in the House, including hard-liners like Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, have repeatedly swatted down efforts by McCarthy to pass both a defense spending bill and a broader short-term funding bill for the entire government, insisting their demands for steeper cuts and other measures be met before they offer their support.

Congress has until Sept. 30 to pass spending legislation or the federal government will partially shut down, with potentially rippling consequences for millions of workers as well as recipients of assistance programs and more.

McCarthy has sought to negotiate with the opposition in his party but has made little headway so far -- raising the prospect that he'll have to make a deal with Democrats in order to get a bill out of the House.

However, should he do that, the hard-liners could in turn initiate a "motion to vacate," or an effort to remove McCarthy from the speakership altogether, which would essentially halt any action in the House until a replacement is elected.

McCarthy has in recent days signaled his frustration with the group and even returned fire at them, saying on Saturday that he would keep aid for Ukraine in a bill to fund the Pentagon -- directly at odds with the opposing demands.

Turner, a McCarthy ally, expressed confidence in the speaker but noted that the road ahead is rocky.

"It's very difficult," Turner told Raddatz. "I'll bet on Kevin McCarthy any day, and we certainly have time yet go. But he's in a very difficult position."

In this June 22, 2023, file photo, Rep. Mike Turner arrives to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP, FILE

Raddatz also asked Turner, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, about a recent surge in unauthorized migrant crossings at the southern border, with the Ohio Republican placing the blame on the Biden administration.

Turner lambasted President Joe Biden for "encouraging an open border policy," though Raddatz followed up to note that top officials like Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have repeatedly sent the opposite message in public.

The administration also maintains that the root causes of migration from Central and South America are complex and shaped by economic and political instability.

The U.S. Border Patrol made 181,059 apprehensions along the southern border in August, up from 132,648 in July, according to the latest Customs and Border Protection data..

Across the southwest, migrants were arrested or detained more than 232,000 times -- the most since last December.

Turner argued that the overall number of crossings is proof of policy failure. At the same time, the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll found that just 23% of Americans approve of Biden's handling of immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border.

"These numbers speak for themselves. They surely show that the administration's policy is encouraging people to come across the border. We need to stop this," Turner said.

Instead, he advocated for the completion of a border wall and passage of a Republican-backed bill in the House "which would put physical barriers on the border but also change our asylum rules and at the same time put more border agents" in place.

ABC News' Quinn Owen contributed to this report.