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House GOP leaders sending members home for the week as shutdown appears increasingly likely

22 Sep 2023 By cnn

House GOP leaders sending members home for the week as shutdown appears increasingly likely

House Republican leaders are sending members home for the week amid deep divisions over funding the government, according to multiple GOP sources, as the possibility of a shutdown at the end of next week appears ever more likely.

The move to send members home came after conservatives dramatically bucked House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and GOP leadership on a procedural vote over a Pentagon funding bill, with members now not set to return to session until next week.

House Republicans had originally planned to be in session over the weekend to pass a stop-gap government funding bill. But that strategy is now on ice amid turmoil and infighting within the House Republican conference that threatens to paralyze the chamber.

The new plan, according to multiple lawmakers and aides, is for Republicans to try to complete work on individual, long-term spending bills, since their short-term funding bill did not have the necessary GOP votes amid hardliner opposition.

But there is little chance that work could be finished before next week's funding expiration deadline. In addition, those bills would be dead on arrival in the Senate, making that not a viable plan to avert a shutdown.

While votes are no longer expected over the weekend, some House lawmakers will remain in Washington to continue discussions over next steps.

Thursday's failed vote marks yet another blow to McCarthy, who is under pressure and has faced threats of an ouster. The defense funding bill that was derailed typically garners widespread bipartisan support, a sign of how even usually uncontroversial issues have become mired down in Republican infighting.

McCarthy emerged visibly frustrated from the House floor while it was in total paralysis as House hardliners tanked the vote, slamming the group for just wanting to "burn the place down."

"It's frustrating in the sense that I don't understand why anybody votes against bringing the idea and having the debate," McCarthy told reporters.

Opposition from hardliners has plagued efforts by Republican leadership to unify behind a plan to fund the government. Days of negotiations have yielded a few apparent breakthroughs, but McCarthy's Republican opponents have been quick to throw cold water on progress and openly defy the speaker's calls for unity. McCarthy's thin margin in the chamber means that in most votes he can only lose four members without any support from Democrats - and absences can raise and lower the majority threshold.

Late Wednesday evening, McCarthy briefed his conference behind closed doors on a new potential plan to keep the government open - paired with deeper spending cuts and new border security measures - in an attempt to win over wary members on his right flank. The plan, as outlined by the speaker, would keep the government open for 30 days at a $1.47 trillion spending level, a commission to address the debt and a border security package. Separately, they also agreed to move year-long funding bills at a $1.53 trillion level. That level is below the bipartisan agreement that the speaker reached with the White House to raise the national debt limit.

It's not clear whether Republicans would actually be able to unify around this plan - but even if they did, it would dead on arrival in the Senate, making it not viable as an option to actually prevent a shutdown.

On Thursday, six Republicans total ended up voting against the rule. Reps. Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Matt Rosendale of Montana, Eli Crane of Arizona and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia voted against the bill. House Rules Committee Chairman Tom Cole of Oklahoma also eventually changed his vote, casting his vote against the rule so he could bring it back up for reconsideration.

It remains unclear exactly what course of action Congress will take next week as it rapidly approaches the shutdown deadline.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, took a procedural step on Thursday that would allow the Senate to vote on a short term government funding bill next week.

"As I have said for months, we must work in a bipartisan fashion to keep our government open, avoid a shutdown and avoid inflicting unnecessary pain on the American people. This action will give the Senate the option to do just that," he said.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

CNN's Morgan Rimmer and Manu Raju contributed to this report.

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