(WASHINGTON) — Congressional leaders in both parties are signaling an increased willingness to punt the deadline to fund the government to later this year, possibly delaying a looming government shutdown until the winter and buying lawmakers more time to hash out government funding bills.
During a closed call with the Republican conference last night focused on the upcoming government funding bills, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told his conference that he’s increasingly open to passing a stop-gap funding bill to keep the government funded past the current Sept. 30 deadline, a source familiar with the call told ABC News.
It’s a slight change in position for McCarthy, who was previously hesitant to endorse a short-term measure, called a continuing resolution, or “CR.”
“I do expect a short-term CR will be needed to finish all the work that we set out to do,” McCarthy told members during the closed call. “But I don’t want the Senate to jam us against the holidays.”
Congress returns after Labor Day, leaving them with just weeks to work out a path forward.
The arrangement McCarthy is proposing could see Congress voting in the coming weeks to keep the government funded at current levels possibly through early December. During a press call Tuesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he was supportive of McCarthy’s proposal.
“I thought it was a good thing that he recognized that we need a CR in September. I am supportive of that,” Schumer said. “A CR until early December provides time for consideration of these bipartisan bills.”
Schumer said he and McCarthy discussed the need for a short-term funding measure during a meeting in late July, just before lawmakers departed for their month-long recess. An early December deadline “makes sense,” Schumer said.
It’s relatively rare to see McCarthy and Schumer in lockstep, especially on issues such as government funding. But just because McCarthy is prepared to embrace a short-term government funding bill doesn’t mean his far-right flank is.
Rep. Chip Roy, a member of the House Freedom Caucus — a conservative faction within the House GOP, said on Twitter Spaces Monday night that conservatives have to “hold the line” after McCarthy told members to expect a short-term CR.
“I don’t believe we should agree to a CR on Sept. 30,” Roy said.
Roy’s opposition is reflective of sentiments of the Freedom Caucus. At a press conference at the Capitol before breaking for August, some members of the Freedom Caucus said it was time for House Republicans to use every tool available to get the spending cuts they want.
For McCarthy, it will be a difficult a maneuver passing even a short-term funding bill: he will be fighting to remain in his position atop the conference while simultaneously looking to divert a shutdown.
McCarthy could pass a short-term bill without some of his Republican colleagues signing on, but will likely require the support of some House Democrats to get it over the finish line.
That’s why Schumer called on the House to “emulate” the Senate as negotiations continue. The Senate has so far handled its funding bills in a largely bipartisan matter, passing the bills out of committee with overwhelming support from both parties.
“If we do this in a bipartisan way, we can avoid a government shutdown,” Schumer said.
That may be easier said than done for McCarthy and House Republicans.
If lawmakers do manage to successfully avert a shutdown in September, there’s still a mountain of work between them and successful passage of all 12 government-funding bills. McCarthy’s Monday night call did little to ease concerns from some moderates about the larger process.
“I just got off a member call — it’s clear President Biden and Speaker McCarthy want a government shutdown, so that’s what Congress will do after we return in September,” Rep. Tony Gonzalez, moderate Republican from Texas, tweeted. “Everyone should plan accordingly.”
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