Kevin McCarthy, the House Speaker, is facing a difficult decision this week. He must choose between keeping his position or working with Democrats to prevent a government shutdown. Conservative hard-liners, such as Rep. Matt Gaetz, have threatened to overthrow McCarthy if he cooperates with Democrats. However, McCarthy may have no choice but to pass a short-term, stopgap measure to keep the government running when funding runs out at midnight on Saturday. A shutdown would have severe consequences, including the suspension of pay for federal workers like troops and border agents.
McCarthy is currently working on a strategy, proposed by Gaetz and Rep. Marc Molinaro, to package several appropriations bills together. This approach aims to cut spending and appease conservatives who may view it as progress. However, McCarthy may struggle to secure enough Republican votes to pass this funding package or a short-term bill. If he fails, he may have to rely on Democratic support to avoid a shutdown. This could lead to a vote on whether to remove McCarthy as speaker, an outcome that threatens his two-decade career in politics.
The possibility of a government shutdown has created a dilemma for McCarthy. He must decide whether to keep the government closed or risk losing his position by cooperating with Democrats. McCarthy has expressed his opposition to a shutdown but pointed out that a small group of conservatives could bring the floor to a standstill due to the GOP’s slim majority. McCarthy is also facing pushback from fellow Republicans, including Gaetz and Rep. Tim Burchett, who are against a short-term funding bill. Democrats, on the other hand, have not yet revealed whether they would support McCarthy. If they do, it could strengthen his position within the GOP, but it may also be seen as a concession to far-right elements. Ultimately, McCarthy must navigate this precarious situation to prevent a government shutdown and maintain his leadership role.