House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Sunday that the Defense Department appropriations bill that was paused last week before it even made it to the floor for debate will come up for a vote this week “win or lose.”
“We will do that this week,” McCarthy said on Fox News, adding “unfortunately I had a handful of members last week that literally stopped the Department of Defense appropriations coming forward,” referring to members of his right flank who have stymied two appropriations bills thus far.
“I gave them an opportunity this weekend to try to work through this, and we’ll bring it to the floor win or lose,” McCarthy told Maria Bartiromo.
House Republican leadership was hoping to put a series of standalone spending bills on the floor to try to build consensus and unite the conference, but it’s been a gamble. Leadership was left scrambling over the defense spending bill after one member of the House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, voted against the bill in the Rules Committee and another, Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina, told CNN he would vote against the rule on the floor.
Both the debate and the scheduled votes were pulled minutes before the chamber was due to gavel in Wednesday.
McCarthy on Sunday pointed a finger at the Senate, saying not only does the House have to work with the upper chamber, but that the Senate “blew up last week too. They couldn’t pass anything.”
“And unfortunately on the Senate side, the Republicans and Democrats over there are writing bills to spend more money. Ours are the most conservative, but if we don’t ask them, we’re weaker in the negotiations. So anytime a Republican wants to hold back and stop the floor from working when Republicans have the majority, that puts us in a weaker position to win in the end of the day,” he said.
But McCarthy said a government shutdown “would only give strength to the Democrats. It would give the power to Biden.”
With no serious progress on Capitol Hill as Congress stares down a spending deadline at the end of the month, lawmakers are acknowledging that at this point a government shutdown is not only possible, but may soon be inevitable.
That’s particularly true if the political dynamics at play among McCarthy, the hardliners in his conference and the US Senate don’t change fast.
“I want to make sure we don’t shut down. I don’t think that is a win for the American public and I definitely believe that will make (Republicans’) hand weaker,” McCarthy said.