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As government shutdown looms, no off-ramp in sight

McCarthy faces pressure for an impending shutdown and the risk that any wrong move could lead to calls for his removal as speaker.

WASHINGTON — Time is running out to prevent this. government shutdownthe House is in a familiar situation: effectively paralyzed as conservatives feud with speaker Kevin McCarthy Things big and small.

McCarthy Push the Republican conference to accept short-term funding plans that include Republican comprehensive proposal For the southern border.But there is a small group of people hardline conservative Rejected the Speaker’s request to try to repeal stopgap funding programs known as “continuing resolutions,” even though opposing them meant forcing a government shutdown.

This left McCarthy at an impasse. The California lawmaker could suffer political damage from the shutdown unless he seeks help from Democrats to pass bipartisan legislation. But working with Democrats would give far-right Republicans grounds to oust him as speaker.

Here’s what to know about the House Republican conflict and where it might go:

What are they fighting for?

At the heart of the conflict is how far House Republicans should push the legislation and what level of compromise, if any, is acceptable.

Pragmatic Republicans acknowledge they own only one chamber of Congress and must negotiate legislation with a Democratic president and a Democratic-controlled Senate.But some conservatives are surrounding House Freedom Caucus — and scores of Republicans who opposed McCarthy becoming speaker — took a combative stance as they sought to disrupt the normal operations of Washington.

They are determined not only to cut spending levels but also to reshape the U.S. government, which they are increasingly hostile to and criticize for being “woke and weaponized.” Some conservatives have downplayed the impact of the government shutdown and even argued that it would bring benefits.

“With the government shutdown, Biden’s regulatory agenda has stalled,” Russell Vought, an influential strategist among right-wing lawmakers, said in a social media post this week.

At issue in the current conflict over government funding is whether Congress should use stopgap funding legislation to keep government offices open and federal employee paychecks flowing after the government’s fiscal year expires on Friday.

What is McCarthy doing?

McCarthy urged fellow House Republicans to avoid the political pain of a shutdown as he tries to protect his slim majority in the chamber.But because Republicans have such a slim majority to begin with, even a holdout minority can demand concessions or block party From advancing legislation.

During his eight months as speaker, McCarthy at times surprised Washington with his ability to maneuver his fragile majority. But now, as he faces a government shutdown, he is caught between promises he made during two of the biggest crises facing Congress this year: the fight to choose a House speaker and negotiations to suspend the national debt ceiling.

McCarthy must win the support of nearly all House Republicans in his hard-fought effort Bid to be a speaker in January. To this end, he made a series of concessions, including agreeing to cut government spending to a certain level and passing 12 annual appropriations bills.

Then in June, as he Negotiating with President Joe Biden To suspend national debt ceiling, McCarthy agrees to annual government meeting Discretionary funds reached $1.59 trillion. The deal passed the House, in part due to Democratic support.

“He made a commitment to one part of the conference in the agreement he made with President Biden on certain numbers,” said Republican Rep. Ken Buck, a member of the House Freedom Caucus. “Then he committed to being elected to a different part of the conference. Spokesperson. Those two numbers are far apart.”

McCarthy’s allies insist the speaker is keeping his word and is still fighting for the spending levels he promised Republicans in January.

Who are the other key figures?

Rep. Matt Gaetza bombastic conservative and close ally former president donald trump, has become McCarthy’s primary foil. The Florida Republican rallied Republican lawmakers to boycott McCarthy’s bid for speaker in January and is now publicly threatening to oust him.

At a closed-door Republican meeting on Thursday, Gaetz confronted McCarthy and asked him whether he was involved in a campaign of conservative online influencers posting negative things about him. According to Gaetz, the speaker retorted that he wouldn’t waste his time on such a thing.

Gaetz’s tactics drew profanity-laced ridicule from Rep. French Hill, a close McCarthy ally.

McCarthy tries to call Gaetz’s bluff and encouraged him to continue the threats. But for now, Gaetz is focused on rallying Republicans like Tennessee Rep. Andy Ogles, Florida Rep. Anna Paulina Luna and Arizona Rep. Eli Crane to stand firm in their opposition Any temporary appropriations bill.

House Republicans are scrambling this week to find a way forward, with fiscal hawk Rep. Matt Rosendale criticizing Republican leadership for failing to bring a spending bill to the House floor for a vote long before the end of the fiscal year.

“It’s an incredible failure on the leadership’s part to not start this process in June, July, when we would have had enough time to get this all done,” he said.

McCarthy took aim at Gaetz and conservatives, saying work on the appropriations bill was delayed over the summer and into the fall because of their demands.

“When they blocked the bill from being introduced, is it my fault if he votes against a continuing resolution? That’s interesting,” McCarthy said.

Against this background, Trump also urged hardline conservatives to insist on comprehensive concessions, even if a shutdown is required.

Biden, meanwhile, has avoided a fight in Congress beyond repeatedly blaming House Republicans for the chaos. He called on McCarthy to implement the spending levels agreed to in the debt limit agreement.

McCarthy sought to drag Biden into the debate, calling on him to meet with Republicans to discuss border security proposals that the speaker hopes to attach to temporary funding legislation.

How will the impasse end?

A government shutdown is almost inevitable at this point. But the duration of the shutdown and the future of McCarthy’s position as spokesman are unpredictable.

Currently, McCarthy is still seeking support from his own party, hoping to use his slim majority to force negotiations with Democrats. But the Senate is working on a temporary bipartisan funding package that could pass in the coming days, putting more pressure on McCarthy to work with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown.

If McCarthy cooperates with Democrats, Gaetz promised that he would do so by filing what he calls a ” motion to vacate Chair. ” A procedural vote could be brought to stop the motion, or it could trigger a House vote on whether McCarthy should remain speaker.

Some House Democrats have said they would be willing to help McCarthy remain speaker if conservatives try to oust him, though they may want something in return.

Some moderate House Republicans are considering joining Democrats to force a vote on such a bill if McCarthy refuses to support a bipartisan plan.

Both developments would be extraordinary in modern politics and could plunge the House into greater chaos.

Associated Press writers Kevin Freking and Lisa Mascaro contributed reporting.

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