House Speaker Kevin McCarthy blinked Saturday morning, doing an about-face on government funding. He abandoned the hard-right provisions in his last government funding bill and offered a stripped-down version of the Senate’s proposed continuing resolution. The new CR includes 45 days of continued funding, but strips out Ukraine funding.
That all sounds fine, except that McCarthy dropped this bill on House Democrats and told them the vote would be held immediately, and Democrats have found multiple issues in the short bill during a delay they created by asking for the House to adjourn. Democrats continue to object to being jammed by McCarthy, and the House is now delaying a vote, with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries holding the floor using his “magic minute,” the unlimited debate time afforded to leadership. The Senate was supposed to have started work on its CR at 1 p.m. ET, but is also in a holding pattern, waiting to see what the House does.
As a matter of tactics, Senate and House Democrats should defeat this continuing resolution. McCarthy has already blinked, deciding a government shutdown is more damaging than a vote on his leadership. They should push their advantage.
Schumer: “This is a bridge CR and Leader McConnell and I have agreed to continue fighting for more economic and security aid for Ukraine.”
McConnell: “Most Senate Republicans remain committed to helping our friends on frontlines… I’m confident the Senate will pass further urgent assistance to Ukraine later this year”
Senate Democrats are caucusing right now. The conference is missing a member after Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s death, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow is a maybe because of a COVID infection (she could come in masked and vote from the cloakroom, if necessary). If the GOP is intent on passing the House bill and refusing to consider amending it, the Democrats won’t have much choice.
Democrats just saved McCarthy’s butt, by the way. The vote was 335-91, with 209 Dems and 126 Republicans voting for it, 90 GOP noes. Now comes the fight over McCarthy’s speakership, and Democrats need to use this to get some concessions from him before they help. First, he has abide by the debt ceiling agreement on appropriations and a mechanism to avoid another shutdown fight next year. Second, no more impeachment crap.
The emerging Dem narrative. It’s true as far as it goes, and the defeat of the draconian cuts and racist border policies the GOP pushed yesterday is significant. The Senate could still fight for Ukraine.
Smattering of applause on the floor as it hit the 2/3rds threshold of 290. So the question now is whether the Senate will prioritize Ukraine over having the rest of their weekend free, and swallow it. Judging by the response there so far, they’ll vote for their weekend. We’ll see if they have any objections to the other stuff the House stripped out from/snuck into their bill.
Jeffries wrapped, after an impassioned speech. “You dropped this bill at the eleventh hour today and gave the American people minutes to evaluate it. That’s unacceptable,” he told Republicans. General debate is now continuing. It’s under suspension of the rules, so it needs 2/3rds to pass. It’s not at all clear right now what the majority of Democrats will do.