Government Shutdown & Speaker of the House Update

Below, Delta Strategy Group shared an overview on where things stands in Washington, D.C. when it comes to the status of a government shutdown and the recent removal of Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as Speaker of the House.

In September, Congress reached the brink of a government shutdown due to conflicts within the Republican party. Members of the far-right Freedom Caucus clashed with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) over the budget McCarthy agreed to with President Biden during the debt ceiling debate earlier this year. McCarthy struck an accord on budget numbers that allowed him and the President to extend the debt ceiling, but Freedom Caucus Members felt left out of the negotiation process, and they pushed for larger budget cuts. Another major sticking point has been continued funding for Ukraine war efforts. Members of the Freedom Caucus are opposed to further funding for Ukraine, a nonstarter in the Senate. The Senate passed a budget proposal that included $6 billion in further funding for Ukraine with the support of twenty-eight Republicans.

In a surprising turn, Congress managed to avoid the shutdown mere hours before the fiscal year was set to expire on September 30. Speaker McCarthy (R-CA) managed to pass a bill to extend the current budget levels for the next forty-five days, and, after some initial holdout, the Senate passed the bill. The Freedom Caucus has still not expressed a willingness to cave on their demands for further budget slashes or a willingness to support further funding for Ukraine, something that the Senate will undoubtedly push for in future budget debates.

To further complicate matters, this afternoon, Speaker McCarthy was ousted from his position as Speaker, leading the House into the chaos of choosing a new Speaker. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) introduced a motion to remove McCarthy from his position, and it received support from every Democrat as well as Republicans Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Tim Burchett (R-TN), Ken Buck (R-CO), Eli Crane (R-AZ), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Matt Rosendale (R-MT), Bob Good (R-VA), and Nancy Mace (R-SC). Representatives Victoria Spartz (R-IN), Cory Mills (R-FL), and Warren Davidson (R-OH) voted to advance the motion to vacate McCarthy to a vote, but they ultimately voted to keep McCarthy as Speaker.

Now, McCarthy has chosen Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, to act as interim Speaker of the House in his absence. McHenry will be tasked with setting a vote for a new Speaker. It is not clear at this time who the Republicans will push for Speaker, but House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN), and interim Speaker McHenry are all top names. It is unclear that the Freedom Caucus wing of the party will be any more willing to support these names than McCarthy.

Any further House business, including passing a budget to stave off a shutdown in forty-five days, will undoubtedly be delayed by the process of determining a new Speaker of the House.

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