Now that it’s erupting, the autumn controversy over money in the US Congress has become a ritual. More than ever, this time only there is a risk of train derailment and disruption of government works. When representatives meet again at the Capitol on Tuesday after the summer recess, there is only a short time left: the US government will run out of money at the end of September and a “government shutdown” is looming. The government could no longer pay wages and pensions, and large sections of government and administrative offices had to close their counters. Congress must now pass a new budget. It has only eleven meeting days in September.
This is where the test of nerves begins today. Republicans in the House of Representatives are deeply divided, with their majority ten votes short, and a handful of lawmakers temporarily out for health reasons. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy now faces the daunting task of negotiating a budget his party can agree to.
Right-wing members do not want to provide additional funding to Ukraine
McCarthy owes his office to the party’s right-wing members of the Freedom Caucus, who kept him waiting for days in January and elected him only after he made long-standing promises — including that he would fight against budget increases. McCarthy also had to accept that a Republican could seek his removal from office, weakening his position.
McCarthy drew the ire of the Freedom Caucus when he reached a debt ceiling deal with President Joe Biden in the spring. Now that Congress must decide the size of the national budget, the controversy is reopening. The Freedom Caucus has stepped up its demands and stepped up its rhetoric in recent days. Its members are calling for the US to freeze the budget at pre-Covid levels. In addition, they do not want to provide additional aid to Ukraine. Finally, they are demanding that Republicans in Congress begin impeachment proceedings against President Joe Biden.
For example, Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene joined rank-and-file voices on the debt dispute in the spring and recently left the group. But now he has announced that he will vote against any budget unless the House of Representatives first begins an impeachment inquiry. Matt Gaetz of Florida threatened McCarthy with losing his job if he did not comply with the Freedom Caucus’s demands. “If Speaker McCarthy stands in our way, he won’t be out of a job for long,” Gates wrote on news service X (formerly Twitter). Texan Chip Roy agreed Politics: “Either you’re fighting for something or you’re in the wrong place as the president of the Republican Party.”
Insufficient votes for impeachment proceedings
This puts McCarthy between a rock and a hard place, an American tactic currently in popular use. The majority leader doesn’t have enough votes for impeachment, and even for many Republicans, the facts against the president of the United States, whom their rebels accuse of corruption, are too thin. Dan Bacon of Nebraska said more evidence is needed.
However, the draft budget did not get a majority. McCarthy has already tried to kick the can down the road, an American proverb in vogue these days: He suggested extending the federal budget by a month to buy time. The Freedom Caucus immediately rejected the proposal. He thinks he is in power and doesn’t think to ease the pressure.
His constituents are not afraid of a “government shutdown,” assured Chip Roy. They wanted America to finally spend less money. Such statements are part of the folklore of right-wing Americans. But this time they have to be taken seriously, even the staff of Republican representatives is afraid. If the Freedom Caucus succeeded in ousting McCarthy from office, Congress would no longer have a quorum and a shutdown would be inevitable.
However, there is no benefit for the parties to initiate a shutdown, on the contrary
So far in vain, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski has reminded her party colleagues that a “government shutdown” is hurting people. For example, in his home state of Alaska, lobstermen are no longer allowed to go out because officials can no longer issue fishing permits. The last government shutdown to date was five years ago because Congress refused to fund Donald Trump’s border wall.
However, it didn’t help if the parties initiated the shutdown, on the contrary: Americans blamed Republicans for the problems that a shutdown under Barack Obama brought with it. Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell knows this. “It’s very confusing,” said McConnell, who watched from the sidelines as McCarthy negotiated with Joe Biden during the spring debt dispute.
Behind the scenes, McConnell is busy lobbying for reconciliation. Among other things, he is committed to ensuring that Congress continues to support Ukraine in the future. Biden has requested an additional $24 billion for this. However, McConnell came under fire for lingering seconds during two public appearances. The early stage is more unpredictable than ever.
“Amateur coffee fan. Travel guru. Subtly charming zombie maven. Incurable reader. Web fanatic.”