Congress remained on track Friday to trigger a government shutdown, as Speaker Kevin McCarthy suffered another high-profile defeat when the House failed to advance a last-ditch stopgap bill to extend government funding beyond Saturday.
Facing the most significant challenge to his leadership to date, McCarthy is locked in a roiling conflict with hardline conservatives who argue Congress should instead focus on passing full-year spending bills.
Twenty-one Republicans crossed over to vote with every Democrat against the bill for a vote of 232-198. The measure – a 30-day extension that would slash funding from current levels – also includes strict GOP-led border policies. House GOP leadership hoped that border security provisions tucked into the temporary measure would force hardliners’ hands – but it was not enough.
With Congress at an impasse, the federal government is preparing for a shutdown when government funding runs out at midnight on Saturday.
Ahead of the vote Friday, McCarthy vowed not to “surrender” and negotiate with the Senate on a short-term spending bill.
Pressed by CNN’s Manu Raju on why he wouldn’t work on a bipartisan funding solution with the Democratic-run Senate, McCarthy replied, “If you want to surrender, yeah. If you want to fight for the American public, to secure our borders and keep government open, how is that a problem?”
House Republicans are expected to gather Friday afternoon behind closed doors to discuss next steps.
On Thursday, the speaker refused to say whether he would try to cut a deal with Democrats – a step that could prompt conservatives to move to oust him from the speakership.
“I still got time, I got time to do other things,” McCarthy responded when asked by CNN what will happen if the stopgap bill fails.
Pressed further on whether he has a plan B, McCarthy said, “In this job you got to have an ABCDEF and G,” and he laughed when asked what letter he was currently on.
“I haven’t spelled my name out completely,” the California Republican said.
A shutdown could have enormous impacts across the country, in consequential areas ranging from air travel to clean drinking water, as many government operations would come to a halt, while services deemed “essential” would continue.
House GOP leaders brought a series of spending bills to the floor Thursday evening as they try to show conservatives they are working in good faith to advance full-year funding bills.
The House passed several of those spending bills, but the measures would not stop a shutdown and have no hope of passing in the Senate.
At the end of the night, a bill to fund the Department of Agriculture failed to pass on the floor with 27 Republicans voting against it, highlighting once again the difficulty Republicans have had coalescing around spending bills.
Meanwhile, the Senate is working to advance a bipartisan stopgap bill that would keep the government open through November 17 and provide additional aid to Ukraine and disaster relief. McCarthy has so far dismissed that bill.
It could take until Monday to pass the Senate’s bill to keep the government open if GOP Sen. Rand Paul slows down the process – as he has vowed to do – over his demand that the bill drop the $6.2 billion in aid to Ukraine it contains, according to senators. That would put it past the Saturday evening shutdown deadline.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.