WASHINGTON — A band of conservative rebels on Friday vowed to block House Republicans’ short-term funding bill to keep the government open, delivering a political blow to Speaker Kevin McCarthy and likely cementing the chances of a painful government shutdown that is less than 48 hours away.
The rebels, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a conservative bomb-thrower and a top Donald Trump ally, said they have enough votes to scuttle the 30-day funding bill, known as a continuing resolution or CR. The vote is expected to happen Friday afternoon.
The hard-liners say they are unconcerned if the government shuts down, as it appears likely to do at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. They want the House to pass all 12 appropriations bills, with steep spending cuts, then negotiate funding with the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Asked Friday he had the votes to defeat the CR, Gaetz simply replied: “Yes.”
A day earlier, McCarthy had rallied his troops behind the GOP’s stopgap funding bill, saying a shutdown would “weaken” the GOP’s negotiating position and hand the White House and the Senate more leverage. McCarthy’s CR includes across-the-board spending cuts and would fund the government through Oct. 31, to buy Republicans more time to pass their appropriations bills.
“I think the failure to move something this afternoon clearly puts the advantage back on the Senate bill,” said Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., a top appropriator, referring to the Senate’s 45-day CR which lacks the spending cuts and border funding conservatives are pushing for.
McCarthy has scheduled a special closed-door meeting of House Republicans for 4 p.m. ET.
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An embarrassing failure of the GOP measure would once again highlight the dilemma for McCarthy as his hardliners strongly oppose a short-term bill even if it includes conservative priorities. It leaves Congress on a path to a shutdown, with no apparent offramp to avoiding it — or to quickly reopen the government.