"Speaker McCarthy is wasting precious time catering to the hard, hard MAGA right," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
"The House Republicans are a total shit show."
So said Congressman Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) Thursday afternoon, just over a week away from a potential U.S. government shutdown, as the fractured House Republican Conference once again proved incapable of passing anything resembling an appropriation.
After far-right Republicans blocked a defense spending bill for the second time this week, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) opted to send lawmakers home with the warning that they may be called back for votes on Friday or over the weekend.
So far, the House has passed
only one of a dozen appropriations bills for fiscal year 2024, which begins October 1. The defense bill—which was also opposed by all Democrats due to spending levels and other provisions—would have made it two.
The latest failure of the Pentagon funding measure, described by some as " embarrassing" for the embattled speaker, comes after the House GOP kicked off the week with a continuing resolution (CR) to prevent a shutdown for 30 days that was "doomed to fail," not only due to MAGA Republicans but also because it would have imposed spending cuts that conflict with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the debt ceiling deal McCarthy struck with President Joe Biden earlier this year.
As of late Wednesday, House GOP leadership reportedly planned to pass the defense bill then move to a new CR on Saturday. Now, according to multiple journalists on Capitol Hill, the plan is spend next week trying to pass the remaining FY24 appropriations bills—bills that, as CNN reporter Melanie Zanona highlighted, are dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
In other words, as Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman noted, the House GOP is adopting the strategy of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)—one of the far-right lawmakers who in January forced 15 rounds of voting for McCarthy to become speaker. McCarthy secured the post by making concessions to Gaetz and others, including a rule change that allows a single member to initiate a vote to oust the speaker.
"An ominous case of déjà vu is playing out this week in the House of Representatives: A national crisis is around the corner, the solution demands bipartisanship, but Speaker McCarthy is wasting precious time catering to the hard, hard MAGA right," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday, recalling when the GOP almost forced an economically catastrophic debt default earlier this year.
"Instead of decreasing the chances of a shutdown, Speaker McCarthy is actually increasing it by wasting time on extremist proposals that everyone knows he knows cannot become law," Schumer charged. "If the speaker continues down on the path he's on, the odds of a shutdown sadly go up, and Americans will know that the responsibility of a shutdown will be on the Republicans' hands."
Schumer—who on Thursday evening took a procedural step toward passing a CR next week—urged the House to focus on funding bills that can pass with bipartisan support, a demand echoed by 144 House Democrats in a Thursday letter to McCarthy, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), and appropriations panel leaders.
"Bogging down the appropriations process with controversial policy debates is contributing to another damaging political impasse," the Democrats wrote. "Given our country's many ongoing challenges and urgent needs, the House of Representatives must work cooperatively to complete the appropriations process in a timely manner. Clean funding bills—free of contentious poison pill riders—represent the best path forward as we work to fulfill our duty to the American people to keep the federal government running."
That followed a Wednesday letter in which 92 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) told McCarthy that "we stand ready to support a bipartisan funding vehicle free of poison pill policy riders that is consistent with the agreement you struck with President Biden and which was ratified by bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate."
"Republicans are deliberately forcing a government shutdown because they know that we the people won't stand for their cruel, pro-hunger, pro-eviction, anti-parent, anti-senior, anti-worker, anti-veteran plot to please their cable news culture warriors or pay for handouts to their billionaire friends," Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.) said Wednesday during a CPC press conference. "Republicans know the American people see right through their... bullshit."