As Clock Ticks Toward Shutdown, Gaetz 'Wants Kevin'

Facing midnight deadline, GOP House Speaker McCarthy contends with hard-liners from own party
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2023 10:00 AM CDT
As Clock Ticks Toward Shutdown, Gaetz 'Wants Kevin'
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks to reporters just after voting to advance appropriations bills on the House floor at the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

It seemed pretty clear all week that avoiding a federal government shutdown might be tough, and rolling into Saturday, all signs continue to point in that direction. The AP reports we're now "on the brink" of it, with furloughs and other disruptions looming if a deal isn't struck by midnight tonight. Reuters notes that Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy is expected to try for a "Hail Mary pass" on Saturday, with last-ditch efforts to try to convince his fellow Republicans to cut out the infighting and vote for a short-term funding bill that includes disaster relief. It's not going to be an easy play. More on recent developments, and what could be to come:

  • GOP tensions: Emotions were running hot on Friday after a resolution McCarthy put to the House floor, which would've funded the government through the end of October, was defeated not only by Democrats, but by 21 Republicans. This left other GOPers frustrated. "The problem is ... the holdouts aren't offering any other options," Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw said to reporters after the vote, per Fox News. "It's a f---ing democracy, it's hard. And there's no acknowledgment of that."
  • Gaetz on the attack: At the front of the GOP pack going after McCarthy's plans is Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who Politico notes has a "takedown mission" in mind for the House speaker. "He wants Kevin," a Gaetz friend tells the outlet. "That's it, and everything else revolves around that."
  • McCarthy's take: The House speaker seemed to be running out of options Friday. "What is the logical next step?" a reporter asked McCarthy after the vote, per Mediaite. "Keep working and make sure we solve this problem," McCarthy replied. When another journalist asked, "What's in your back pocket, speaker?," McCarthy answered, "Nothing right now. I'm broke."

  • Senate's plan: The AP notes that congressional body will convene for a "rare" session on Saturday to try to push forward its own legislation, a bipartisan bill that includes disaster relief and $6 billion in aid to Ukraine. That bill, which would fund the government through Nov. 17, may not see a vote till Tuesday—and the House may still balk at it due to the Ukraine aid.
  • A primer: CNN offers an illustrated guide to what goes down during a shutdown, and how it could affect the economy.
  • What will be interrupted: The New York Times and Vox lay out where a shutdown would "immediately be most felt." Included in that list include furloughs at the IRS and national parks (many of which would shut their gates); a halt in the Small Business Administration processing loan applications; a nixing of food inspections for lower-risk items; possible restricted access to the Smithsonian's museums; and a stop to the WIC program that helps parents, pregnant people, and children pay for groceries.
  • What won't be interrupted: The agencies and services that shouldn't be affected by the shutdown, at least in the short term, include FEMA; mail delivery; Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare operations; and federal prosecutions, including ones involving former President Donald Trump (civil cases may see a hiatus). The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, has enough funds to last through October, but benefits could stop if the shutdown goes into November.

  • Reprieve for EPA: The Federal News Network reports that the Environmental Protection Agency is asking staffers to report to work next week, even if a shutdown takes place. The agency has "sufficient carryover payroll" to pay employees through Oct. 7, per an email from EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe. If a shutdown goes past Oct. 7, the EPA will instruct workers what comes next.
  • Shutdowns, ranked: CNN notes there've been 14 gaps in federal funding since 1981, with most falling under President Ronald Reagan. The longest partial shutdown was under President Trump, a 35-day stalemate that started in late 2018 and stretched through early 2019.
  • Biden's 'hands-off approach': Per NBC News, the president is keeping a low profile, a strategy "intended to project an image of him out in the country executing on what he considers key accomplishments as House Republicans fight over how to fund the government," according to White House officials. But the news outlet notes a possible wrench: A shutdown could curtail those travels.
(More government shutdown stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.