Congress finally passed a 45-day spending bill and in the process managed to narrowly avoid another federal government shutdown, but not without more than the usual drama and discord that characterize the wheeling and dealing on the floor and in the halls of the Capitol.
The bill will keep the government running until November 17, or until final measures on government budget and spending can be agreed upon by Republicans and Democrats. After the stopgap passed the House, it quickly moved up to the Senate and was eventually signed by President Joe Biden just a little shy of the October 30 midnight deadline.
The short-term spending plan marks a rare bipartisan effort in an increasingly politically polarized Washington, with hardline Republicans like Florida Representative Matt Gaetz saying that he will initiate rare proceedings to have fellow GOP member California Representative and Speaker Kevin McCarthy ousted from his position as Speaker.
“I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy,” Gaetz said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” segment. “Look, the one thing everybody has in common is that nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy. He lied to Biden. He lied to House conservatives,” the congressman added.
Instead of pandering to hardliners like Gaetz who were calling for a shutdown and a total exclusion of cooperation with Democrats, McCarthy instead found a compromise with the liberals, with the bill excluding funding for Ukrainian aid – which the GOP wanted – but not including deep spending cuts and additional funding for the border, which were also on the Republican’s list of demands.
“If somebody wants to remove me because I want to be the adult in the room, go ahead and try,” McCarthy told members of the press. In a separate interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” the embattled speaker took the Gaetz’s threat in stride. “I’ll survive,” he said. McCarthy also accused Gaetz of making things personal and being “more interested in securing TV interviews than doing something.”
GOP Not Happy With McCarthy, Less With Gaetz
Fox News reported that while Republicans aren’t happy with the compromise with Democrats, they are even less than thrilled with Gaetz’s threat to pull McCarthy from his speakership seat.
Sources told the news outlet that House Republicans are looking into filing a motion to expel the Florida representative in light of an ongoing investigation by the House Ethics Committee and his threat to oust McCarthy as speaker.
“No one can stand him at this point. A smart guy without morals,” a GOP member told Fox News.
Gaetz has been under investigation by the House Ethics Committee since 2021. The representative is being accused of violating campaign finance laws, bribery, drug use, as well sex trafficking involving a minor. Gaetz has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, and his office has said that the representative’s lawyers have been in contact with the Department of Justice, which they said cleared Gaetz and will not charge him with any crimes.
“Total Roller Coaster”
Philadelphia Representative Guy Reschenthaler, the House GOP chief deputy whip, described the events leading to the passage of the stop-gap bill as a “total roller coaster” which included an incident involving Democratic New York Representative Jamaal Bowman, who pulled a fire alarm at the Capitol.
Speaker McCarthy said that at the very least, he would look to have Bowman face punishment by the House Ethics Committee, comparing the false fire alarm to the actions perpetuated on January 6.
“I’m gonna have a discussion with the Democratic leader about it. But this should not go without punishment. This is an embarrassment,” McCarthy said.
Surveillance footage from the Capitol shows the NY representative pulling the fire alarm, but he defended himself by saying that it was unintentional and that he was merely trying to open a door that would not open.
“Today, as I was rushing to make a vote, I came to a door that is usually open for votes but today would not open. I am embarrassed to admit that I activated the fire alarm, mistakenly thinking it would open the door. I regret this and sincerely apologize for any confusion this caused,” Bowman said.
Hakeem Jeffries, who is also a New York representative and is the leader of the Democrats in the House, said that he has not seen the video of the fire alarm being pulled and said that he would withhold comment until he has more information.
The House Administration Committee is also looking into the incident.
Tim Ramos has written for various publications, corporations, and organizations – covering everything from finance, politics, travel, entertainment, and sports – in Asia and the U.S. for more than 10 years.
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