On Wednesday night, the House passed a short-term funding bill, with the Senate having to pass by before Friday to avert a government shutdown. This is hardly the end of the line, though, as Congress is looking to pass a spending deal next Friday to fund the government for the rest of fiscal year 2023, especially if they don't want to have to work over Christmas and New Year holidays.
The larger story to the spending bill is that it didn't exactly overwhelmingly pass the House. The vote was 224-201, with only nine Republicans voting in favor of it, as Mychael Schnell with The Hill highlighted.
The nine are hardly surprising, and include Reps. Adam Kinzinger (IL), Liz Cheney (WY), Chris Jacobs (NY), Anthony Gonzalez (OH), John Katko (NY), Jamie Herrera Beutler (WA), Fred Upton (MI), Steve Womack (AR), and Brian Fritzpatrick (PA).
Most of those members--all but Womack and and Fitzpatrick--will not be returning to Congress next year. "Herrera Beutler and Womack are both members of the House Appropriations Committee," Schnell pointed out. "Kinzinger, Jacobs, Gonzalez, Katko, Upton, Womack and Fitzpatrick voted for the continuing resolution signed into law at the end of September, which kicked the funding deadline to Dec. 16. Lawmakers are now trying to push that back even further."
House GOP leadership has come out against the bill, including and especially House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who is likely to become speaker, if he can overcome defections. Their differing positions on the bill have put him and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) at odds.
While McConnell was handily selected once more as the party's leader in the Senate, it's Republicans who will be in the majority come the start of the 118th Congress, now just a few weeks away. It thus stands that House Republicans are looking to have more clout in the process, rather than letting that fall on Democrats during the rest of the lameduck session.
The rift has been dominating the news cycle, as Alexander Bolton, also for The Hill wrote a piece earlier on Thursday, highlighting how "GOP tempers flare as McCarthy pans McConnell’s spending strategy."
Bolton recalled McCarthy's appearance on Fox News' "Hannity" for his piece:
McCarthy told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday evening that he hopes Senate Republicans won’t vote for the omnibus spending bill, arguing that they could save almost $100 billion in taxpayer money by voting instead for a stopgap measure that would freeze federal funding levels until next year when Republicans will take control of the House.
“They’re trying to jam us right before Christmas. Why would you ever move forward when there’s a change in power in 21 days where Republicans would have a stronger hand?” McCarthy said. “We wouldn’t be talking about adding more money. We’d talk about decreasing.”
Should McCarthy indeed become the speaker, there are concerns for a possibly "challenging" working relationship between McConnell and McCarthy come the new Congress, as McCarthy's tactics are "not helpful" to Senate Republcian efforts to get the bills passed.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), is also quoted as saying he thinks "it's going to be a challenge every day" with McCarthy.
Frustrating as Senate Republicans may be with McCarthy, his antics are at least not surprising, and not just because it stands that House Republicans want more clout. As Bolton also wrote:
“We had a really good meeting. Laid out the challenges that we’re all collectively facing here. I think there’s widespread agreement that we’d be better off with an omnibus than a [continuing resolution], but there are some significant hurdles to get over to do that,” McConnell said on Nov. 29 after meeting with McCarthy, President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
A spokesman for McCarthy told The Hill Wednesday that McCarthy never agreed to do an omnibus during or after the White House meeting.
The House GOP leader said that passing regular appropriations bills would be better than passing continuing resolutions and he remains a “hard no” on the pending omnibus package, the aide explained.
“CRs are not where we want to be but if we cannot get our work done now — the outgoing majority, if they don’t want to work with us, we can get this work done in January as well,” McCarthy told reporters outside the White House after the Nov. 29 meeting.
Other stories dominating the news cycle include whether or not McCarthy will become speaker after all. Emily Lillis and Mike Brooks for instance, also this morning for The Hill, put out a piece on "Seven scenarios for McCarthy’s Speakership vote — ranked least to most likely," with "McCarthy wins an outright majority of votes" still coming in as that most likely option.
The focus of POLITICO Playbook for this morning covered support from moderate House Republicans during Tuesday's Republican Governance Group (RG2), where Townhall was also in attendance. As highlighted on Wednesday, Rep. María Elvira Salazar (R-FL) made clear while speaking to reporters that "there is no Plan B," emphasizing support for McCarthy.