By preventing a plan to fund the military department in 2024 for the second time in less than forty-eight hours, Republican extremists handed a huge blow to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Thursday. As a result of this unexpected turn of events, Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene and four other rebels joined Democrats in voting against the budget bill for the Pentagon. This further deepened the disarray that already existed within the party.
McCarthy and the other members of his leadership team were certain that they had enough support to win a procedural vote that would allow them to begin discussing the defense plan, which featured provisions that are appealing to conservatives. On the other hand, opponents voted 216-212 against commencing the discussion and instead sought more significant reductions in spending.
This new discovery piled further pressure on McCarthy, who is already facing a revolt from colleagues who want him removed from his role as Speaker. These colleagues want him removed because they believe he has been a poor speaker. McCarthy voiced his exasperation by stating, “This is an entirely new concept of people who just want to destroy the whole place.” It’s not going to work.”
It was an extremely unusual event when lawmakers were unable to move forward with the defense funding plan for 2024. Typically, a member of the majority party would vote to begin debate even if they are opposed to the actual legislation being discussed. McCarthy made a solemn oath that he would adhere to his approach and keep working toward a solution in spite of the obstacles.
Notable Republicans including Dan Bishop (North Carolina), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia), Matt Rosendale (Montana), Andy Biggs (Arizona), and Eli Crane (Arizona) were among those who voted against the procedural motion. Greene and Crane had voted in the past in support of starting the discussion, but on Thursday, they altered their votes to against starting the debate.
The failed procedural vote came after a Republican meeting that lasted for two hours on Wednesday night. Those Republicans who are opposed to spending legislation had the opportunity to voice their concerns at the discussion. The persistent disagreements that exist within the party might make it more difficult to approve a funding plan and prevent a shutdown of the federal government on October 1. The twelve spending bills that need to be voted by Congress in order to keep the government operational have not been passed as of yet.
McCarthy has offered a short-term compromise that would temporarily cap discretionary spending at $1.471 trillion for one month before boosting it to $1.52 trillion after the 30th of October. This is the amount the conservatives have been demanding. This package also includes measures proposed by Republicans on the border, but there is little hope that it will clear the Senate. The method taken by McCarthy was criticized by Democrats, who stated that it was a waste of time to focus on measures that were unlikely to become laws.
In light of these difficulties, Democrats have considered the possibility of filing a discharge petition to compel a vote on a continuing resolution (CR), which would maintain funding levels at the levels that were established under Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2023. To avert a closure of the government, this measure would need the backing of at least some Republicans, and numerous Republicans have signaled their willingness to support it in order to avoid a shutdown.