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House GOP infighting set to tank late-night spending deal as McCarthy sets Thursday vote

The ink was barely dry on a deal reached late Sunday night to avoid a partial government shutdown Sept. 30 when House Republicans erupted in open revolt, threatening to destroy the deal before it could even be voted on.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) vowed to pursue a Thursday vote on the stopgap measure, but enough Republicans have already announced their opposition to derail it with every House Democrat lined up in opposition.

“It’s an unmitigated disaster right now on the majority side,” Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) bluntly told MSNBC’s “Meet the Press Now” Monday.

Under the deal, which was brokered between the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus and the more moderate Main Street Caucus, the government would remain fully operational through Oct. 31.

In exchange, spending on all federal agencies except the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs would be slashed by 8% from current levels.

Additionally, the agreement omits increased aid to Ukraine and includes provisions from the House-passed Secure Border Act of 2023 — including resuming construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border and approving the hiring of 22,000 additional Border Patrol agents.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) vowed to pursue a Thursday vote on the stopgap measure.
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Despite House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-Pa.) praising the agreement as a “framework,” the conservative bloc splintered once the deal was announced.

More than a dozen House Republicans had signaled opposition to the bill as of Monday evening, citing a litany of grievances such as principled opposition to a stopgap continuing resolution and continued funding for special counsel Jack Smith’s probe into former President Donald Trump.

Currently, McCarthy can only afford to lose four Republican votes and still pass legislation along party lines.

Perhaps the most outspoken opponent of the continuing resolution — CR, in Washington parlance — was Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) a perennial thorn in the side of McCarthy.

“The [Rep. Byron] Donalds [R-Fla.] CR will allow taxpayer funding for Ukraine by continuing Nancy Pelosi’s omnibus passed last year, which appropriated $300M for DOD – aka 30 more days for Joe Biden to squeeze out taxpayer cash for Ukraine,” Gaetz posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Donalds, who helped broker the deal, defended the compromise from his colleague’s criticism.

“Matt, tell the people the truth,” Donalds wrote after Gaetz agitated for a spending bill that would defund Smith’s investigation. “The DOJ will operate whether the government is shut down or not. Special Counsel’s [sic] have always exempted themselves from shutdowns. What’s your plan to get the votes to defund Jack Smith? You’ll need more than tweets and hot takes!!”

House GOP infighting set to tank late-night spending deal as McCarthy sets Thursday vote
Rep. Matt Gaetz is the most outspoken opponent of the continuing resolution.
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Gaetz has long been opposed to a CR and blasted McCarthy last week for failing to oversee the timely passage of the traditional 12 separate appropriations bills needed to keep the government fully funded.

On Sept. 12, after the House gaveled back into session from a six-week August recess, Gaetz threatened to deploy a motion to oust McCarthy if he didn’t play ball.

On Monday, Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) also took direct aim at McCarthy amid the intra-GOP melee.

“Unfortunately, real leadership takes courage and willingness to fight for the country, not for power and a picture on a wall,” she bemoaned in a statement. “The Republican House is failing the American people again and pursuing a path of gamesmanship and circus.”

Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.)
Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) took direct aim at McCarthy.
AP/J. Scott Applewhite

One of McCarthy’s most well-known allies on his right flank, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) also assailed the deal.

“Your CR funds Section C and Section K of Public Law 117-328. Here’s what the law says. It funds Ukraine in multiple sections, including 2 funds with no specified dollar amount that leaves the spending up to Biden. Billions more could end up being sent to Ukraine with your CR!” Greene posted on X in a jab at Donalds.

McCarthy has sought rally his troops by emphasizing that a government shutdown could impede the congressional inquiries against the Biden family.

 U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) speaks at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol Building.
Getty Images/Anna Moneymaker

“It’s hard to pass anything in this place. We started out in a five-seat majority. I got one member who’s now resigned, we’ve got a couple of members who are out as well. Anything we do is pretty tough,” he bemoaned to reporters.

Democrats, meanwhile, have railed against Republican proposals to fund the government at less than the agreed-upon numbers from the debt ceiling battle earlier this year.

“In both chambers, a small band of hard-right Republicans are dead set on grinding down the gears of government,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor Monday. “For these MAGA Republicans, it’s as if gridlock is a virtue and cooperation a crime.”

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