The Senate is throwing the House of Representatives for a loop with their introduction of a stopgap spending bill, just days before the looming government shutdown deadline. The bipartisan bill, which made its debut on Tuesday, proposes extending current funding levels until November 17th and allocating nearly $6 billion in aid for Ukraine and an additional $6 billion in disaster aid.
Senate to move first on stopgap bill while McCarthy blames Biden for shutdown showdown https://t.co/juCziFntDr
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) September 26, 2023
Time is of the essence as lawmakers scramble to pass the bill before the clock strikes midnight on Saturday. However, House Republicans are not on the same page when it comes to this temporary spending resolution. The Senate’s proposal puts House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in a precarious position. If he allows it to pass, he will give conservatives within his own party the perfect excuse to mount a rebellion and potentially oust him from his position.
The House Republicans have produced their own stopgap bills, but they have yet to advance these bills to a vote. These proposed bills all include conservative policy provisions that would undoubtedly spell doom for the legislation in the Democrat-led Senate. Meanwhile, House Republicans find the Senate’s version of the stopgap bill to be utterly unacceptable. Their grievances primarily revolve around the spending levels, Ukraine aid, and the absence of border security provisions.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, praised the bipartisan backing for his bill and criticized McCarthy for struggling to rally enough support for a House bill. He touted their stopgap bill as a temporary solution that promotes cooperation and moves away from extremism. On the other hand, House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, sided with Schumer and cautioned against the consequences of a government shutdown. He proclaimed that shutdowns do not serve as effective political bargaining chips and only inflict unnecessary hardships upon millions of Americans.
It seems that House conservatives are facing an uphill battle at every turn. They have been at odds over advancing spending bills and coming to a consensus on a stopgap bill. Despite McCarthy’s best efforts to appease their demands, a faction of arch-conservatives, led by Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, have vowed never to back a stopgap bill. According to them, supporting extended spending is akin to supporting the policies of President Biden and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who set the current spending levels.
These holdouts have been adamant about completing the normal appropriations process, even if it means risking a government shutdown. Interestingly enough, lawmakers who are opposed to a shutdown have been diligently exploring alternative options for stopgap bills. McCarthy, in particular, is pushing for a version that would reduce overall spending to $1.47 trillion, include most of the House’s Secure the Border Act, and establish a debt commission. His goal is to bring this measure to the House floor before Saturday.
McCarthy has been employing some strategic finger-pointing, attempting to shift blame for a potential shutdown onto President Biden and the Senate. He is adamant that the president must take responsibility for the border crisis. In fact, he believes it is crucial for him and Biden to have a meeting before the government partially closes its doors. McCarthy envisions a scenario in which the president takes action to keep the border under control, allowing them to then sit down, finish the pending bills, and get to work.
With the ticking clock and the palpable tension between the Senate and the House, only time will tell if they can find common ground and pass a stopgap spending bill before the Saturday deadline.