Amidst the looming threat of a federal government shutdown, Speaker Kevin McCarthy has undertaken a significant shift in strategy. In a bid to secure a 45-day funding bill with Democratic support, McCarthy’s move is seen as a risky yet necessary step to prevent a disruptive federal closure. Republican lawmakers held a closed-door meeting in the early hours, with time running out before the midnight deadline crucial for funding government operations.
The new approach, however, comes at the cost of leaving out aid to Ukraine, a priority for the White House but increasingly contested by a growing faction of Republican legislators. Nonetheless, the plan allocates an additional 16 billion US dollars for federal disaster assistance, aligning with President Joe Biden’s complete funding request.
While the House was poised for a swift vote on the plan, Democrats called for additional time to thoroughly review the 71-page bill. In the Senate, a rare weekend session commenced with efforts to advance its own temporary funding plan, including provisions for Ukraine.
McCarthy emphasized their commitment to maintaining an open government, asserting, “We’re going to be adults in the room. And we’re going to keep government open.” However, in the absence of a deal by Sunday, federal workers face furloughs, and critical services nationwide may face shutdown disruptions.
The proposed House action would sustain government operations at current 2023 levels for 45 days, extending up to November 17. This mirrors the bipartisan approach underway in the Senate, which also includes an additional six billion dollars for Ukraine in the ongoing conflict with Russia, along with six billion dollars for US disaster relief.
As McCarthy anticipates relying on Democratic support for passage due to opposition within his party, his position as speaker may be at risk. Some hard-right legislators have signaled their intent to file a motion for his removal, though it remains uncertain if there would be enough votes to unseat him. McCarthy, however, remains resolute, stating, “If somebody wants to remove me because I want to be the adult in the room, go ahead and try. But I think this country is too important.”