House Rejects Plan to Avoid Government Shutdown 6:42
(CNN) -- Congress remained on track Friday to trigger a government shutdown after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy suffered another high-profile defeat when the chamber failed to move forward with a stopgap bill to extend funding beyond the deadline.
McCarthy is under intense pressure as House Republicans have been unable to coalesce on a plan to avert a shutdown amid resistance from hardline conservatives to passage of a short-term funding extension.
The GOP leadership of the House of Representatives has told its members that new votes are expected on Saturday, but it is not yet clear what the chamber will vote on and there is still no consensus among Republicans.
- What could happen if the U.S. government shuts down?
Late Friday afternoon, McCarthy wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that a bipartisan Senate proposal to keep the government funded until Nov. 17, which includes aid for Ukraine, "has no way forward," calling the bill "wrong."
An exterior view of the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Washington. (Aaron M. Speaker via AP)
The link between Ukraine and a possible U.S. government shutdown
Speaking to reporters in the afternoon, McCarthy argued that aid to Ukraine should be removed from the Senate bill.
"I think if we had a clean project without Ukraine, we could probably pull it off. I think if the Senate includes Ukraine and focuses on Ukraine instead of the United States, it could cause real problems," he told CNN's Manu Raju.
McCarthy also said he had proposed introducing a "clean" stopgap bill.
Several House Republicans oppose additional funding for war-torn Ukraine.
Twenty-one Republicans voted with all Democrats against the House stopgap bill on Friday (the result was 232 to 198 votes). The measure — a 30-day extension that would cut funding from current levels — includes strict border policies pushed by the Republican Party. GOP leaders in the House of Representatives had hoped the border security provisions included in the temporary measure would have an impact on hardliners, but they weren't enough.
Pressure on McCarthy
McCarthy is now facing the most significant challenge to his leadership to date, as he faces pressure from hardline conservatives and threats about the possibility of a vote to remove him as president.
During a closed-door meeting, House GOP leadership proposed that members remain in session for the next two weeks to vote on more individual appropriations bills, according to several lawmakers on the floor.
That plan wouldn't help avoid a government shutdown this weekend, but Republicans are hopeful that the leadership's proposed schedule change could convince some resisters to support a short-term funding option in the meantime.
Republican Rep. Ken Buck, who voted against the House stopgap funding measure on Friday, said the failed effort was a "vote of no confidence" in McCarthy.
"This was a vote where people had no faith that Kevin McCarthy was going to do the right thing. We approved a vote on the debt ceiling. He went and negotiated a significantly higher figure with President Biden. People don't have faith that when it comes time to negotiate, they're going to do the right thing," Buck told CNN's Jake Tapper on "The Lead."
On Thursday, the House speaker declined to say whether he would try to strike a deal with Democrats, a step that could lead conservatives to try to unseat him from the presidency.
"I still have time, I have time to do other things," McCarthy replied when asked by CNN what would happen if the stopgap bill failed.
Asked if he has a plan B, McCarthy said, "In this job you have to have an ABCDEF and a G," and laughed when asked what letter he was in. "I haven't spelled my full name," he replied.
What happens in the Senate?
A shutdown could have huge repercussions across the country, in areas as important as air transport or drinking water, as many government operations would grind to a halt, while services deemed "essential" would continue.
House GOP leaders introduced a series of spending bills Thursday night to try to show conservatives that they are working in good faith to push through year-round funding bills.
The House passed several of those bills, but the measures would not prevent a shutdown and have no hope of passing the Senate.
Late in the evening, a bill to fund the Agriculture Department failed to pass on the floor with 27 Republicans voting against, underscoring once again the difficulty Republicans have had in rallying around spending bills.
Meanwhile, the Senate is working to move forward with a bipartisan bill that would keep the government open until Nov. 17 and provide additional aid to Ukraine and disaster relief. McCarthy has so far ruled out that bill.
It could take until Monday for the Senate to pass the bill to keep the government open if Republican Senator Rand Paul slows down the process — as he has pledged to do — by demanding that the bill eliminate the $6.200 billion in aid to Ukraine it contains, according to senators. This would exceed the closing deadline of Saturday night.