As hard-right Republicans in Washington threaten to shut down the government, moderate Republicans, particularly those who represent districts won by President Biden, are working to prevent a backlash from voters. Representative Mike Lawler, a Republican who represents a district won by Biden, is one of those attempting to appeal to constituents across party lines and prevent a government shutdown. Lawler has emphasized his opposition to a shutdown and his efforts to bring a bipartisan spending patch to the floor. However, far-right lawmakers are opposing any stopgap funding bill, leaving mainstream Republicans frustrated and concerned about the potential political damage caused by a shutdown.
Democrats have already seized on the disorder to criticize vulnerable Republicans like Lawler, with the House Democrats’ campaign arm sending out political attacks linking them to the most extreme members of the conference. While the Senate is debating a bipartisan agreement to extend federal funding, neither that proposal nor a more conservative-leaning alternative has enough Republican votes to pass the House. Far-right Republicans, including Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, have vowed to try to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his post if he works with Democrats to pass a temporary funding bill. Moderate Republicans who stand to pay the steepest political price are frustrated with this situation.
Lawler predicted that the hard-line Republicans opposed to government funding would face the majority of the political backlash, but concerns remain about the potential blame that will fall on the Republican Party and the potential benefit this could bring to the White House. Despite the challenges, moderate Republicans continue to explore options to prevent a shutdown, with some even working with Democrats. The goal is to avert a shutdown and intervene in federal spending while attempting to satisfy conflicting priorities among constituents, such as cutting federal expenditures while keeping money flowing.