Funding for Ukraine will not be a part of any stopgap continuing resolution measure to keep the government funded and avoid a shutdown by the end of this month, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Wednesday.
McCarthy is working furiously to convince House Republicans to come together and pass a conservative bill to keep the federal government open.
Whatever House Republicans come up with is nearly certain to be rejected by the Democrat-controlled Senate, where Democrats and most Republicans want to fund the government.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., reportedly wants Ukraine funding to be a part of any stopgap funding deal, which could keep the government funding for a period of 30 days as Congress tries to approve around a dozen individual spending packages.
House Republicans were even voting against their own defense bill. During a rowdy afternoon vote, the usually popular bill was turned back from consideration, 212-214, after five hard-right conservatives helped sink it. They want to see an overall plan from McCarthy.
McCarthy simply walked off the House floor.
"Look, the one thing you're going to learn about me: I like a challenge — I don't like this big a challenge — but we're just gonna keep doing it until we can make it," McCarthy told reporters.
With time dwindling, Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to pass the broader government funding legislation and get a bill to President Joe Biden's desk to become law. Otherwise, the U.S. faces massive federal government closures and disruptions. Plans for another vote Tuesday to advance the overall spending bill were shelved.
"The ball's in Kevin's court," Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus said.
The latest House government funding proposal, a compromise between members of the hard-right Freedom Caucus and the more pragmatic Main Street conservatives, was almost dead on arrival, left sputtering even after McCarthy loaded it up with spending cuts and Republican priorities in a border security package.
Behind closed doors Tuesday, the speaker was trying to stress the political repercussions of a government shutdown to Republicans, warning them no party wins with a closure.
Still, one Republican after another rose to tell McCarthy that the current plan would not have their votes. With a slim majority, he needs almost every Republican on board.
Rep. Stephanie Bice, R-Okla., one of the negotiators for the Main Street group, urged her colleagues later to not let the "perfect be the enemy of the good."
The showdown over the usually popular defense bill shows the difficulty ahead — it was the second time McCarthy had tried to advance the measure after he abruptly withdrew it from consideration last week.
The attempt to soothe tensions among Republicans comes as tempers are flaring and as big personalities try to seize the upper hand — some trying to lead and others hoping to disrupt any plans for compromise.
Florida's two leading conservatives, Matt Gaetz and newcomer Byron Donalds, are sniping in the halls and across social media, as Gaetz criticizes the deal Donalds and others struck as insufficiently conservative.
And freshmen Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., pointedly attacked McCarthy as a "weak speaker."
One seasoned lawmaker Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., warned the infighting could derail the House GOP, much the way it did for past speakers like John Boehner and Paul Ryan. Both retired earlier than expected amid constant threats of ousters.
Womack said he fears there is a "larger fight" brewing "that is more of a personality nature because of the conflict between certain members and the speaker."
The monthlong funding package that McCarthy is pushing would impose steep spending cuts of more than 8% on many government services, while sparing defense and veterans accounts. It would last for 31 days in hopes of giving House Republicans time to approve the more traditional government funding bills.
Sen. Schumer warned of the steep cuts Republicans are planning with their "cruel" and "reckless" spending plan.
At its core, House Republicans are trying to undo the deal McCarthy reached with Biden earlier this year to set federal funding levels as part of the debt ceiling fight. Conservatives rejected that measure then, even though it was approved and signed into law, and they are trying to dismantle it now.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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