Monday, May 27, 2024
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Kevin McCarthy’s problems are far from over

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has received praise after siding with Democrats and his party’s moderates to pass a temporary funding bill that narrowly avoided a costly federal government shutdown.

But the move earned him criticism from some in his party, and puts his speakership at risk.

McCarthy has dared his party’s hard-right flank to try to oust him as speaker.

If somebody wants to make a motion against me, bring it,” he said after Saturday’s vote. “There has to be an adult in the room.”

McCarthy is almost certain to face a motion to try to remove him from office, but what is less clear is if there would be enough votes to oust him as speaker. Most Republicans voted for the package on Saturday, while 90 opposed it.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz had rallied GOP lawmakers to resist McCarthy’s bid to become speaker in January and threatened to call a vote to oust McCarthy if he failed to meet their demands.

“I am concerned he hasn’t been true to a deal he made to become Speaker of the House,” Gaetz said on Saturday.

The congressman, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, has not announced a motion to vacate, but told reporters that McCarthy’s speakership is “on tenuous ground.”

Other members of the GOP’s hard-right also criticized McCarthy for siding with Democrats.

“Instead of siding with his own party today, Kevin McCarthy sided with 209 Democrats to push through a continuing resolution that maintains the Biden-Pelosi-Schumer spending levels and policies.” Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “He allowed the DC Uniparty to win again. Should he remain Speaker of the House?”

As a government shutdown loomed, McCarthy abruptly abandoned demands for steep spending cuts and relied on Democrats to pass the bill ahead of the midnight funding deadline.

The result removes the threat of a costly government shutdown for now, but the reprieve may be temporary.

The stopgap bill funds government until November 17, and Congress will again need to fund the government in the coming weeks.

The package omitted aid to Ukraine, but Democrats have said they will hold McCarthy to assurances of providing additional assistance to the war-torn nation—something a growing number of Republicans now oppose.

“We are going to hold Kevin McCarthy to both public and private assurances he has given that he will continue to support that $300 million that the Ukrainian people need in order to continue their offensive in the war and to repel an expected winter offensive by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s army,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, said on MSNBC.

The U.S. “cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.

“While the Speaker and the overwhelming majority of Congress have been steadfast in their support for Ukraine, there is no new funding in this agreement to continue that support,” Biden said. “I fully expect the Speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment.”

McCarthy declined to say after Saturday’s vote on government funding whether he would bring aid for Ukraine up for a House vote in the coming weeks.

“If there is a moment in time we need to have a discussion about that, we will have a discussion completely about that, but I think the administration has to make the case for what is victory,” McCarthy said, according to The Associated Press.

Newsweek has contacted representatives for McCarthy for comment via email.

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