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September 20, 2023 1:47 pm MST

McCarthy's Leadership Teeters As Nation Careens Toward Shutdown

  • by: Colorado Pols
“The game is not over,” Speaker Kevin McCarthy said.

CNN puts the best face possible on GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s bad situation in an update today:

Speaker Kevin McCarthy, facing a looming government shutdown deadline and intense pressure from his right flank, projected optimism that his conference can work together on potential tweaks to the conservative stopgap measure.

“I feel like we are” making progress, McCarthy said Wednesday morning, less than two weeks away from the September 30 government funding deadline…

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican, characterized discussions Wednesday morning as “very positive” and said they have “both sides of the equation” in the room discussing and they are “working through” disagreements.

However, the GOP-led proposal is likely dead on arrival in the Senate, so it’s unclear how Congress avoids a shutdown.

Draft resolution to oust Speaker McCarthy left in a bathroom by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) of Florida.

As Politico reports, while McCarthy tries to cobble together a deal that can satisfy the hard-liners in his caucus and still have a prayer in the Democratic-controlled Senate–at this point considered a rational impossibility–the White House is paying out the proverbial rope:

On Tuesday, GOP leadership canceled plans for a procedural vote on a short term funding bill, wary it had the numbers to pass. Hours later, hard-right conservatives tanked a procedural vote related to a defense spending bill. Moderate House Democrats have been working on a last-ditch fall back option to avert a shutdown, but any final product will need approval from the Senate.

For now, the White House is staying out of the mix, trying instead to draw a contrast between the House majority that can’t complete the task of keeping the government’s lights on and Biden, who on Tuesday addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York. It’s also highlighting the price of the latest GOP plan, such as, in their estimation, cutting 800 Customs and Border Protection agents and 110,000 Head Start positions for children…

This morning, Colorado’s Sen. John Hickenlooper put out a statement blasting House Republicans for their unrealistic dickering while the deadline approaches, and warning of the serious economic impact of a government shutdown that will be felt once again from Colorado’s national parks to government employee strongholds like El Paso County:

“A government shutdown would be catastrophic. It would disrupt much of our country, including freezing military service members’ pay, delaying Medicare payments to seniors and closing our National Parks.

“There’s a process for getting a federal budget done, but it involves everyone working in good faith and looking for space to compromise.

“Instead of coming to the table, House Republicans are barricading themselves and almost using military and seniors as hostages.”

At this point, McCarthy’s task of passing a funding resolution that can pass the U.S. Senate, meaning a bill that doesn’t give in to the far right’s futile and expanding draconian demands, looks impossible without once again reaching across the aisle for Democratic support in a reprise of the deal ending the artificial crisis over raising the nation’s debt limit earlier this year. McCarthy barely survived that power play, mostly because the positive outcome for the country stymied the anger from the right.

That is not a dynamic that McCarthy can count on again. After being burned and scorned in the debt ceiling fight, the Freedom Caucus risks losing its own influence if their threats to topple McCarthy prove toothless a second time. The far right has no realistic plan to win this budgetary impasse with the Senate and White House controlled by Democrats, instead they seem to be choosing destruction out of pure ideological spite. McCarthy, despite his willingness to appease the Freedom Caucus by entertaining their obsession with tit-for-tat impeachment of Joe Biden, will have no choice but to give his right flank the shaft once again–unless he wants to go down in history as the man who presided over yet another preventable economic disaster.

Despite his best efforts to learn from their example, McCarthy has arrived at the very same predicament that ended the careers of Republican House Speakers Paul Ryan and John Boehner before him. McCarthy must now choose between the best interests of the nation in the most basic sense, and the crazies he gave the power to challenge his speakership at any time they choose.

If Ryan and Boehner couldn’t run this gauntlet, we don’t see how McCarthy does either.


5 thoughts on “McCarthy’s Leadership Teeters As Nation Careens Toward Shutdown

  1. Here is one solution:

    Put together an omnibus bill which would simultaneously fund the government, impeach Joe Biden, and vacate the speaker's chair. It might pass the House. Come on, Kevin, take one for the team.

    But I don't think Chuck Shumer would give it much attention when it gets to the other chamber.

    1. My first impression is that it was left there on purpose to send a message. This is one step removed from writing "Kevin iz a doo-doo-head" in sharpie on the wall.

    1. Borrowing the concept that Adlai Stevenson used:

           * "Speaker McCarthy — all the sane Republicans are with you."

           * "Nice … but I need a majority to win."

      Here's hoping the Democrats have a clear list of demands before they will support ANY Republican becoming Speaker:  no shutdown, passage of a continuing resolutions or appropriation bills in accord with the May deal on the deficit that will be in place at least until the end of January 2025, support for Ukraine, no impeachment resolution during 2024, ….

      being an opportunist, I'd also ask for nationalization of low-Earth satellite systems or maybe a ban on government using Twitter …. but be willing to let that go and have Musk dangle on his own petard for awhile. 

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