McCarthy faces 'losing his position' over 'behaving irresponsibly' as shutdown odds grow: analysis

McCarthy faces 'losing his position' over 'behaving irresponsibly' as shutdown odds grow: analysis
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 13: U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks during a weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol on January 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. Leader McCarthy announced yesterday that he would not voluntarily cooperate with the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol after the committee has formally requested an interview with him. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images).

The latest potential government shutdown looming over Washington could outlast its predecessors unless congressional lawmakers quickly figure out how to transcend their ideological schisms. But as Ed Kilgore writes in New York Magazine's Intelligencer on Monday, United States House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) managing to successfully resolve the impasse is a longshot.

"Twelve days before fiscal year 2023 ends," Kilgore explains, "the odds of a shutdown are very high, and this one could last a while (of the ten government shutdowns since 1980, six lasted no more than three days). Divided party control of Washington is only one factor. The bigger problem is confined to the narrowly Republican-controlled House, where Speaker Kevin McCarthy is perpetually being held hostage by hard-core conservatives who have the power to take away his gavel via a motion-to-vacate-the-chair maneuver (a device McCarthy was forced to sanction in order to win his initial election as Speaker). With both alleged 'runway spending' and alleged McCarthy/RINO coziness with Democrats being huge causes célèbres on the far right, the Speaker's four-vote majority dooms him to a perpetual choice between losing his position and behaving irresponsibly."

Kilgore says that "the situation is more dire than ever because House rebels are making both substantive and procedural demands, not only insisting on deep domestic spending cuts and draconian immigration legislation as part of any deal but also opposing the 'omnibus' packaging of appropriations that makes it possible to keep the government open (1996 marked the last time Congress was able to complete individual appropriations bills in their entirety, in no small part because of policy battles over individual bills conservatives regularly launch). With time running out, McCarthy is struggling to come up with a stopgap spending formula that unites his conference while giving it a bit of leverage for negotiations with Senate Democrats and the White House. It’s not looking good."

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Kilgore also assesses that partisan bickering is one of many factors in play.

"It's not just a matter of time running out before September 30th, either," Kilgore states. "It's unclear what will change in October or November to make a deal more likely, as both parties hunker down for a highly contentions 2024 election year. Yes, some Republicans fear inviting blame for a government shutdown. But in an atmosphere where the GOP's presidential candidates are casually batting around proposals to permanently close multiple federal agencies and gut the 'deep state,' it could take a while for public unhappiness with a shutdown to have any effect. Certainly Kevin McCarthy's not going to throw away his gavel in an act of patriotic self-sacrifice when waiting out an extended shutdown might present more promising opportunities."

Kilgore concludes that the American public should "get ready for images of a darkened Capitol and locked gates at parks and other federal facilities, along with furloughs of federal employees and speculation as to when or whether they will be made whole."

READ MORE: 'Powerless' Kevin McCarthy held hostage by 'far-right bomb throwers' as shutdown looms

Kilgore's full column continues at this link.

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