Updated Oct 1, 2023 - Politics & Policy

McCarthy sets up GOP showdown after his Saturday surprise

Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images

After entering the weekend without a clear path to avoid a government shutdown, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) sided with his party's moderates and Democrats to keep the government open.

Why it matters: McCarthy openly dared his party's conservative flank to challenge his leadership. "If somebody wants to make a motion against me, bring it. There has to be an adult in the room," McCarthy said after the vote.

  • He wasn't mentioning Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) by name, but Gaetz had said he would attempt to oust the California Republican if McCarthy brought a clean stopgap funding bill to the floor.
  • After the bill passed the House despite 90 GOP "no" votes, Gaetz said McCarthy "violated conference rules."
  • The House quickly went to recess until Monday, leaving conservative challengers stewing over any potential recriminations or attempts to remove McCarthy.

What's next: While McCarthy scored a win with moderates, multiple conservative members are angry over the lack of spending cuts and border funding in a stopgap.

  • Conservative critics of McCarthy are also frustrated by the speaker’s side deal to bring a standalone bill to provide funding to Ukraine to the floor.

The intrigue: Two senior Democrat sources said it's unlikely members across the aisle save McCarthy if Gaetz moves forward with a motion to vacate, which can remove the speaker with a majority vote.

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