With a government shutdown possibly coming Saturday, who in Congress is holding up talks?
Republican holdouts include Reps. Andy Biggs, Eli Crane, Dan Bishop, Matt Rosendale and Matt Gaetz. They have stymied House Speaker Kevin McCarthy at every turn
A conservative cast of congressmen has repeatedly stalled spending talks on Capitol Hill as government funding approaches its Saturday expiration date.
These holdouts — which include Arizona Republicans Reps. Andy Biggs and Eli Crane, have stymied House Speaker Kevin McCarthy at every turn — rejecting his attempts to pass a temporary funding measure and embarrassing him with more failed rule votes in one week than the previous two decades.
The last-minute hurdles couldn’t come at a worse time for McCarthy, whose control of a narrow three-seat Republican majority is being put to the test again after he agreed to procedural changes during January’s House Speaker vote and over pushback to a May deal to raise the debt limit while placing some constraints on future spending.
Now, as McCarthy struggles to formulate a stopgap funding bill to permit Congress to work through the 11 remaining annual spending bills after the Sept. 30 deadline, some members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are saying they will never support a “continuing resolution” and that a protracted government shutdown might be necessary to catalyze a dramatic shift in the way Congress approaches spending.
Despite McCarthy’s plans to pass four appropriations packages through the chamber this week on top of a continuing resolution, a government shutdown seems likelier than ever as a handful of House Republicans double down on “holding the line” amid calls from former President Donald Trump on Sunday to “SHUT IT DOWN!” unless all demands are met.
Who is opposing temporary funding to avoid government shutdown?
Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Dan Bishop, R-N.C., and Matt Rosendale, R-Mont. — all members of the House Freedom Caucus — have pushed back against McCarthy since day 1.
These three are the only members of the House GOP who opposed both attempts to bring the defense spending bill to the floor last week as well as the continuing resolution hashed out between members of their own caucus and the Main Street Caucus.
Biggs, a four-term congressman representing parts of Gilbert and Chandler, Arizona, says continuing resolutions represent a continuation of Democratic spending levels and “lazy lawmaking.”
“Congress is arguing for the continuation of the Biden-Pelosi-Schumer spending levels and policies that abuse Americans,” Biggs posted Monday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “We can’t have that. No more (continuing resolutions). Hold the line.”
Bishop, who was elected to represent the region east of Charlotte, North Carolina, last year, referred to efforts to pass a continuing resolution as “cosmetic messaging bills” on Monday.
“We need to break through the Swamp fever and do something real,” Bishop said on X.
Rosendale, also elected for the first time in 2022, represents the safely red Montana 2nd Congressional District. He has downplayed the impact of a government shutdown and has blamed the impending shutdown on party leadership delaying bringing appropriations bills to the floor.
Another freshman congressman, Rep. Eli Crane, who represents much of northern Arizona, has been one of the most vocal opponents of passing a continuing resolution, and has argued in favor of a shutdown as a means of creating a watershed moment in how Congress appropriates its funds.
“The way we do things in this town has to change,” Crane said on Friday. “And, unfortunately, the only way we’re going to get any change in this town is through force.”
The most consistent voice in opposition to McCarthy’s attempts to move forward with a shutdown-free appropriations process has likely been western Florida’s four-term congressman Rep. Matt Gaetz.
Gaetz says a return to “regular order” — where all 12 appropriations bills are considered separately without relying on a continuing resolution — is the only way “to expose and end this corruption that is hollowing out our beloved America.”
Other Freedom Caucus members who have voiced opposition against McCarthy’s efforts to advance spending bills or a continuing resolution include: Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., Rep. Cory Mills, R-Fla., Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Tenn., Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., and Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C.
How are other Republicans reacting?
Many House Republicans have publicly condemned their colleagues for scrapping the various versions of a continuing resolution deal, which include across-the-board spending cuts to most government agencies in addition to border security measures, and for bringing the country closer to a government shutdown.
“They had all the chance to influence this (continuing resolution) proposal. ... And so you get the sense that there’s really nothing that they want other than to undermine the institution,” said Utah Republican John Curtis, who represents the state’s 3rd Congressional District, in an interview with the Deseret News last week.
Curtis said government shutdowns typically cost additional money and result in conservative Republicans losing their “seat at the table” in negotiations with the Senate.
The inability of the Republican conference to unite around a stopgap funding measure and pass appropriations bills that already contain sizable spending cuts is a sign some members of Congress are not interested in pragmatic conservative wins, according to Utah Republican Blake Moore, who represents the state’s 1st Congressional District.
“When you look at the table of all 12 appropriations bills, we are cutting an enormous amount of spending,” Moore said last week in an interview with the Deseret News. “If the handful of Republicans want to sabotage that and make it so we don’t have the opportunity to cut spending, they should have to answer to their constituents on how they’re allowing for more spending to take place.”
What will Congress do this week to avoid a government shutdown?
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Friday if the House doesn’t pass a continuing resolution this week, the Senate, in an unusual move, will send their own version to the House for a bipartisan vote.
Moderate House Republicans have already threatened to join forces with their Democratic colleagues to circumvent McCarthy and approve a stopgap funding bill if the dysfunction continues — which would likely result in a conservative backlash and McCarthy potentially losing his speakership.
However, the Senate is facing obstacles of its own, with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., objecting to a rule that would fast track a Senate-originated continuing resolution, setting up could be a 11th-hour Saturday vote on whether to keep the government fully funded or allow certain discretionary spending deemed “nonessential” to run dry until spending bills pass in their final form.