GOP hardliners’ refusal to support spending bills ignited public spats among House Republicans on Monday, exasperating House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other Republicans desperate to unify around a solution.
Why it matters: As the simmering divisions within the House GOP erupt, funding for the U.S. government is inching closer to running dry — and a shutdown on Sept. 30 is looming.
Driving the news: The seemingly endless cycle of right-wing opposition — this time toward a short-term measure to give lawmakers another month to try to pass annual funding bills — appears to have worn McCarthy’s patience thin.
“If you’re not going to pass individual bills, if you’re not going to pass a short-term (continuing resolution) that allows us to pass individual bills … what do you want to do?” McCarthy said on Monday.
“If you run for office, you should be willing to govern.”
The backdrop: More than a dozen GOP lawmakers, mostly members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, have come out against the proposed stopgap bill negotiated by some Freedom Caucus members and the pragmatist Main Street Caucus.
The bill would keep the government funded for 30 days with an across-the-board spending cut for every agency except the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs. It also includes a bill to reinstitute Trump-era border policies.
The latest opposition came after Republicans had to cancel votes on several spending bills because of right-wing opposition.
The big picture: McCarthy isn’t the only one irritated by his GOP colleagues on the right.
“We all are,” Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) told Axios. “You can beat your chest and say you’re more conservative than other members … but if you don’t come together and unite, you’re not advancing any of those principles.”
Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) — who represents a district that President Biden won in 2020 — aired his grievances more bluntly: “This is not conservative Republicanism. This is stupidity … these people can’t define a win, they don’t know how to take yes for an answer. It’s a clown show.”
Those comments almost pale in comparison to what Republicans have been saying about each other out in the open.
Conservative Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) blasted McCarthy as “weak” in a statement opposing the stopgap bill. McCarthy, in turn, criticized her decision not to seek reelection.
Reps. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), who is leading the stopgap bill, and Matt Gaetz, another Florida Republican who’s spearheading the opposition to it, spent the day going toe-to-toe on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio), the leader of the moderate Republican Governance Group, said of Gaetz: “What has he ever accomplished other than running his mouth?”
The other side: Some Republicans argued that the infighting is simply another routine aspect of democratic governance in motion.
“Discussion is good,” said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), a Freedom Caucus member who opposes the temporary funding. “We’re honestly trying to solve a problem, which is our national debt and our national security.”
One senior GOP lawmaker argued that while McCarthy is “acting like he hates” the right-wing flirtation with a government shutdown, it’s actually “the greatest thing that could happen to him.”
The GOP lawmaker said that’s because McCarthy can blame a potential government shutdown on the same GOP hardliners that have threatened to remove him.
Between the lines: Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) told Axios the discord is “kind of a re-litigation” of the House’s marathon fight in January over choosing a speaker — a showdown that resulted in McCarthy giving considerable power to the right.
Appearing to confirm that notion, Gaetz switched his banner photo on X to a photo from the speaker’s election.
What we’re watching: McCarthy and Donalds said they plan to make the case for the stopgap measure at the House GOP’s closed-door conference meeting Tuesday morning.
Late Monday, however, the situation seemed unsalvageable.
One GOP lawmaker, speaking on the condition of anonymity, offered an ominous forecast: “Things will get worse before they get better.”