In a remarkable display of division within the Republican Party, right-wing House Republicans dealt another blow to Speaker Kevin McCarthy by blocking a Pentagon funding bill for the second time in a week. This latest act of GOP disunity on federal spending heightens the risk of a government shutdown in just nine days.
Hours after McCarthy indicated that he had managed to garner support and was prepared to move forward, a group of Republicans broke ranks with their party to oppose a procedural measure allowing the military appropriations bill to proceed for debate on the House floor. They joined forces with Democrats, resulting in the defeat of the measure.
This development represented a significant setback for McCarthy, who had privately reprimanded his members on multiple occasions for taking the unusual step of opposing rules proposed by their own party—an unprecedented tactic. It also underscored the ongoing resistance from the right-wing faction of the Republican Party when it comes to funding the government. Even after McCarthy acquiesced to demands from hard-right Republicans for more substantial spending cuts as a condition for avoiding a shutdown on October 1, the dissent persisted.
By Thursday afternoon, lawmakers were heading home for the weekend, shelving plans to stay in session and pass spending legislation. This decision came after a week in which no substantial progress had been made in resolving the impasse. McCarthy expressed his frustration, saying, “This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down. It doesn’t work.”
In an attempt to appease those refusing to vote for any stopgap bill, Republicans began coalescing around a plan for the following week. They aimed to advance three or four annual appropriations bills containing substantial spending cuts, intended as a gesture of goodwill to conservative members. However, this approach would do little to avert a shutdown since the Senate had not passed any appropriations bills, making it impossible for them to become law before funding expired on September 30.
Despite the turmoil, some House Republicans remained steadfast in their commitment to their duties. Representative Chip Roy of Texas emphasized, “We’ve got to do our job; it’s that simple.”
Democrats, on the other hand, were taken aback by the level of dysfunction they witnessed among their Republican counterparts. Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, described it as “just really a collapse” and lamented the absence of effective leadership.
Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, a member of Democratic leadership, noted the extraordinary nature of McCarthy’s struggles, observing that he had never seen a Speaker lose a rule vote so frequently—three times in four months, including twice in a single week. This level of discord within the Republican Party presents a significant challenge as the deadline for government funding draws near.