On its first full day of work following the August recess, the House was supposed to start the floor process to bring up the defense appropriations bill Wednesday. The people in charge of Speaker Kevin McCarthy, however, had other plans. That plan consists of: one, shutting the House down while they come up with more unreasonable demands for slashing government funding and, two, running the clock down toward Oct. 1, when they can shut the whole government down.
One of the hardliners in the House, Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, told Politico that running amok is their master plan. “We have an evolving strategy going right now. This whole place is about chaos, right?” Got that? Chaos is strategy.
McCarthy did not have enough votes to pass the first procedural vote on the military spending bill, and wasn’t going to force a repeat of his resounding defeat in June, when 11 hardliners unexpectedly voted against the motion to proceed on a bill and tied the House up for days, not allowing any legislation to advance to the floor. The ploy then was to force McCarthy to renege on the deal he made with President Joe Biden to avert a debt default, and slash the agreed-upon spending levels by billions. It worked.
At least McCarthy learned from that experience and counted the votes before he put the defense appropriations bill on the floor, saving himself a modicum of embarrassment. Otherwise, it’s a repeat of the June fiasco, with the added excitement of a pending government shutdown in just 10 legislative days.
The obstructionists aren’t opposing this appropriations bill, just like they weren’t opposed to the legislation back in June—that was a ridiculous bit of political posturing about people’s freedom to have gas stoves. This bill, which Republicans are programmed to love because it contains money for the Pentagon, is chock-full of their culture-war bullshit. They’re blocking it because it’s the best hostage they can take now.
“Nobody’s objecting to what’s in the bill,” said House Rules Committee Chair Tom Cole. “Everybody’s trying to leverage the bill for something now.” What they want isn’t exactly clear beyond, as Politico writes, “a litany of demands from [the] right flank on how to handle federal spending talks with the Senate to avert a funding lapse.”
One thing the House hardliners don’t want is a stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown. That would mean continuing to spend at current levels, which they say is too much. They want to go back to the previous funding year, 2022, but that simply can’t be done in a continuing resolution. That’s not how this works. Which means they want to shut the government down.
There are any number of other demands, none of which are impeachment. “[McCarthy] starting an impeachment inquiry gives him no—zero—cushion, relief, brace, as it applies to spending,” Rep. Bob Good of Virginia, one of the revolters, told Politico. So good job on that one, Mr. Speaker.
This is another big blow to McCarthy. If he can’t get the defense bill passed—of all goddamned things—you know how hopeless it all is. There seems to be no possible way the speaker can regain control of the House at this point, and that makes a government shutdown almost inevitable.
McCarthy caves to rebels for temporary truce
GOP rebels shut the House down
Freedom Caucus bites back