McCarthy Struggles to Get GOP House Freedom Caucus Behind Plan to Avoid Government Shutdown

McCarthy Struggles to Get GOP House Freedom Caucus Behind Plan to Avoid Government Shutdown
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THE DEAL THAT WASN’T — After working through the weekend to bridge differences between their centrist and conservative wings, House Republican leaders announced last night that they had a dealthat could unite the GOP behind a short-term spending patch and shore up their negotiating position with Democrats ahead of a potential Oct. 1 shutdown.

For a minute, it seemed like a deja vu moment — another tactical coup for Speaker KEVIN McCARTHY, who after fits and starts earlier this year got his conference to unite behind a conservative debt-ceiling proposal, paving the way for an unlikely bipartisan deal to avert a federal default.

This time, things aren’t looking so good.

As details of the deal hashed out by leaders of the Main Street Caucus and House Freedom Caucus trickled out, a bevy of conservative hardliners piped up with various versions of “Hell No” — rejecting a measure that would impose an 8% cut to most non-defense programs and implement an array of GOP border policies while extending government funding for a month.

A taste of the blowback: Rep. MATT GAETZ (R-Fla.) told our colleague Olivia Beavers he “will not support this 167 page surrender to JOE BIDEN.” Rep. MATT ROSENDALE (R-Mont.) called the plan a “continuation of NANCY PELOSI’s budget and Joe Biden’s policies.” Rep. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-Ga.) posted to X, “I’m a NO,” while Rep. ELI CRANE (R-Ariz.) simply posted “NO.”

Add to that more objections from Reps. DAN BISHOP (R-N.C.), CORY MILLS (R-Fla.), TIM BURCHETT (R-Tenn.), TONY GONZALES (R-Texas), ANDY OGLES (R-Tenn.), ANNA PAULINA LUNA (R-Fa.), VICTORIA SPARTZ (R-Ind.) and RALPH NORMAN(R-S.C.), with others certain to follow. (h/t Olivia, Axios’ Juliegrace Brufke and the Washington Examiner’s Reese Gorman for the late-night whip).

It all adds up to brutal math for McCarthy, who can afford to lose no more than four votes assuming all Democrats vote against it (take it to the bank) and all of his members show up this week (iffy, with at least three members at least temporarily sidelined).

It also highlights just how unmanageable the House GOP truly is, with Freedom Caucus leaders — including Rep. SCOTT PERRY (R-Pa.), its chair — endorsing a deal only to see it publicly rejected by a good chunk of its membership within a matter of minutes.

To be sure: With a vote expected no sooner than Thursday, McCarthy and Majority Whip TOM EMMER (R-Minn.) have some time to tweak the proposal and bring the holdouts around. Perhaps the argument that worked during the debt-limit fight could change some minds again: The point isn’t to get this proposal signed into law, but to give Republicans as strong a negotiating hand as possible.

But, remember, this is a group that felt burned by the deal McCarthy ultimately negotiated to end the default crisis, and they’re not going to be inclined to allow him much room to maneuver again.

And whatever the fate of this CR gambit, remember that neither outcome gets Congress any closer to avoiding a shutdown in 13 days. Biden and the Democratic Senate aren’t going to swallow a top-line spending cut and a bunch of partisan policy riders to keep the lights on. And remember they have a wishlist of their own, including a hefty new tranche of Ukraine aid …

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