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McCarthy vows to move forward with House bill to avert shutdown despite GOP holdouts

Senate, House miles apart with shutdown near
House Republicans dig in on border security inclusion in government spending bill 05:07

Washington — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he would bring up a Republican stopgap measure for a vote on Friday ahead of a looming government shutdown, though it appears he still lacks enough support among his own GOP members to pass it before funding runs out Saturday night. 

Speaking to reporters Thursday, McCarthy said he confident it would pass the House, a tall order given apparent opposition from a group of hard-right Republicans and all Democrats. Lawmakers have until 12 a.m on Sunday to come to an agreement to avoid a shutdown.

"We're going to pass ours," the California Republican told reporters Thursday. "We're going to bring that up on Friday." 

He said the short-term funding bill would "secure the border," which he said could placate some Republicans who have been hostile toward supporting any stopgap bill, while the House works on passing annual spending bills

McCarthy also addressed concerns that the GOP bill would be dead on arrival in the Senate, which is advancing its own continuing resolution, adding that the House version might be able to garner support from Democrats.

"I'm talking to Senate Democrats, even this morning, that want to do something on the border," he said. "I've got Democrats who came to me on the floor last night saying, 'We want to do something on the border.' To me, that is the place where I think we can get a stopgap bill." 

The House's bill to avoid a government shutdown

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy pauses to talk to reporters at the Capitol as he heads to the House chamber for a vote on Sept. 27, 2023.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy pauses to talk to reporters at the Capitol as he heads to the House chamber for a vote on Sept. 27, 2023. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House stopgap bill would fund the government through the end of October, while the Senate's bipartisan version keeps operations going through Nov. 17. The House version includes spending cuts and a border security measure, while the Senate bill funds the government at current levels and includes aid for Ukraine. 

"I'm not going to play with that," McCarthy said about whether he would cede on funding for Ukraine if the Senate comes around on border security.

Hardline Republicans are opposed to any funding for Ukraine. With Republicans' narrow majority in the House and Democrats united in opposition, McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes to pass any bill.

Nearly a dozen far-right Republicans have said they won't support or are unlikely to support any continuing resolution. 

"I don't understand," McCarthy said of the holdouts.

He noted that a far-right contingent who held up advancing the annual appropriations bills needed to fund the government are also against a stopgap measure. 

"Does that mean you just don't want to govern?" he said. 

House Republicans are also working to advance four bills to fund the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State and Agriculture for another year, which have no chance of passing in the Senate. 

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus sent a letter to McCarthy on Thursday demanding that he publicly reject the Senate bill. They also want McCarthy to keep the House in session until all 12 individual appropriations bills are passed and detail his plan for getting them over the finish line.

"No Member of Congress can or should be expected to consider supporting a stop-gap funding measure without answers to these reasonable questions," the letter said. 

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said all Democrats would vote against the GOP stopgap measure. 

"There's no reason for us to be considering bills that will have no support in terms of passage in the United States Senate, because the Senate actually is working on bipartisan legislation," the New York Democrat told reporters Thursday. 

Jacqueline Kalil and Scott MacFarlane contributed reporting. 

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