House Republicans fail to pass short-term funding bill as shutdown deadline looms

More than a dozen GOP hard-liners voted no on the bill Speaker McCarthy backed.

September 29, 2023, 1:50 PM

House Republicans on Friday failed to pass a short-term funding bill to keep the government open until Oct. 31.

Earlier in the day, a procedural vote to start debate on the bill advanced 218-210, prompting Republican applause in the chamber.

However, more than a dozen Republican hard-liners voted against final passage -- a major defeat for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as Saturday night's shutdown deadline looms.

The final vote was 198 for, 232 against.

McCarthy, earlier Friday, tried to make the case for the bill by playing up the border security provisions being added to the stopgap measure.

"Every member will have to go on record on where they stand," McCarthy said at a press conference. "Are they willing to secure the border or do they side with President Biden on an open border And vote against a measure to keep government open?"

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy speaks to members of the news media outside his office at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 12, 2023 in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, FILE

The border provisions were from Republicans' major legislation passed earlier this year, such as a restart of border wall construction and tougher penalties for visa overstays.

The proposal also included keeping government spending to a lower level while maintaining Veterans Affairs and military spending, which would result in dramatic cuts to social spending programs and other areas across the government.

But it still wasn't enough to appease Republican hard-liners, who've previously threatened to oust McCarthy as speaker over the spending battle.

Asked about hard-liner opposition, McCarthy said: “We’ll see. I can’t understand why someone would side with President Biden and keeping the border open. We’ll see when the vote comes. If those individuals vote that way, you should ask them that question.”

Gaetz, who has been leading the charge against McCarthy, in brief floor remarks Friday morning criticized the short-term measure as one that "weakens the Republican position on strong border policies."

"I will be voting against this continuing resolution," Gaetz said.

Even if the House measure were to pass, it is out of step with the Senate's bipartisan 45-day stopgap proposal, meaning that passage is no guarantee to keep the government from running out of money over the weekend.

The White House Office of Management and Budget released a statement opposing the House's short-term measure. The office said if the bill came to his desk, President Joe Biden will veto it.

"In a blatant violation of the funding agreement the speaker and the President reached just a few months ago, the bill endangers the vital programs Americans rely on by making reckless cuts to programs, regardless of the consequences for critical services from education to food safety to law enforcement to housing to public health," the statement read.

"The Administration urges House Republicans to follow the Senate's lead and engage in a bipartisan appropriations process that funds the Federal Government in a responsible manner, consistent with the bipartisan agreement earlier this year."