Feb 21, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Rep. Patrick McHenry: Odds of government shutdown in March are "50-50"

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) arrives to a House Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on February 06, 2024 in Washington, DC.

Rep. Patrick McHenry at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

House Speaker Mike Johnson's (R-La.) "fear" of being ousted could result in a government shutdown over the foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific, Financial Services Chair Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said in an interview released Wednesday.

Why it matters: Congress is racing toward a potential government shutdown, with two funding deadlines in early March to keep all government services in operation.

State of play: "I think the odds are 50-50 at this point," McHenry said in an interview with CBS News of the chances of a government shutdown.

  • "All the speaker has to do is allow the Appropriations Committee to go get a deal. We will have a deal by March 1 and March 8 if we can allow just momentum to occur," said McHenry, in reference to the funding deadlines.
  • "If the speaker wishes to stop it for whatever reason, we'll probably have a government shutdown. It will come down to the speaker's decision on whether or not to just fund the government and get on with the deal."

What we're watching: McHenry noted on CBS' podcast "The Takeout with Major Garrett" that the battle over funding for Ukraine could go "nuclear," but the prison death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny should prompt Republicans into backing military and economic aid for the invaded nation.

  • "It should show the barbaric regime that is in place in Moscow," McHenry said.
  • "They have not changed ... It should be an enhancement for policymakers to see what's at stake," he said. "We are the great democracy on the globe. And we should be the example to the rest of the world."

The bottom line: The fear of being removed as speaker was "real and legitimate" because "the last guy was taken out," said McHenry, in reference to the historic ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

  • But McHenry added: "You can either die as speaker and worry about them taking you out, or live every day as your last. Get something out of it. ... The view from the public, while not perfect, is better if you take action than if you sit and dither."
  • Representatives for Johnson did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.
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