Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Friday that he still hopes to pass a Republican-only short-term spending bill next week, as his party has shifted strategies to focus on passing full-year appropriations bills after a series of defeats this week from the conservatives in his conference.
Asked if Republicans will still push forward with a partisan short-term stopgap bill next week, McCarthy said: “I would like to. You need to.”
“I still believe if you shut down, you’re in a weaker position,” McCarthy later said. “You need the time to fund the government while you pass all the appropriations.”
Congress has just more than a week to pass legislation to fund the government past Sept. 30 and avoid a shutdown.
McCarthy had aimed to pass a GOP-only stopgap bill this week, a measure that had no chance of becoming law but was intended to articulate a House position before getting into negotiations with the Democratic-controlled Senate.
But backlash from conservatives over spending issues foiled those plans — and then hard-line GOP members bucked party leadership and voted down advancing a Pentagon appropriations bill twice in three days.
Now, caving to the demands of hard-line conservatives to mark up appropriations bills at an overall lower level, House Republicans are working on advancing four of the 12 regular appropriations bills next week.
McCarthy said that the House will vote to advance those four bills — Homeland Security, the State Department and foreign operations, the Department of Defense, and Agriculture — Tuesday. The House Rules Committee started meeting Friday afternoon to consider those bills.
“I think we’ve made some progress to those who have been holding up passing the rule to get on to these bills,” McCarthy said.
Some allies of McCarthy hope that pushing through on those bills will show some good faith in the conference that could get some of the holdouts on a GOP-only stopgap to relent and support one this week.
But there is no commitment from holdouts to do so.
McCarthy did not directly answer a question about whether he is confident that passing the four appropriations bills will unlock support for a GOP-only continuing resolution that can pass the House next week.
He warned against a shutdown, though, and noted that a Republican stopgap plan would include a House GOP border crackdown bill.
“I just believe if you’re not funding the troops and you’re not funding the border — it’s pretty difficult to think that you’re going to win in a shutdown. I’ve been through those a couple of times,” McCarthy said.
Mychael Schnell contributed.