WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders on Friday canceled a planned two-week recess as a government shutdown appeared more likely after they failed to pass a short-term spending bill with fewer than two days to avoid a government shutdown.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, informed the GOP caucus of the canceled break at a closed-door meeting after more than 20 Republicans embarrassed him by voting with Democrats to defeat the bill.
Republicans who joined Democrats voting against the measure included several of McCarthy’s most outspoken antagonists, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Arizona’s Andy Biggs and Eli Crane, and other hardline conservatives.
Even if the bill had passed, it was doomed to failure in the Senate, where Democrats hold majority control.
The government is scheduled to shut down at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday if a funding bill is not approved by both chambers of Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden.
The Senate has easily advanced a bill to fund the government through Nov. 17.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Friday blasted McCarthy for introducing a bill that was aimed at placating conservatives, but which ultimately failed to win passage.
“Coddling the hard right is as futile as trying to nail jello to a wall and the harder the speaker tries, the bigger mess he makes,” Schumer said. “And that mess is going to hurt the American people the most.”
“I hope the speaker snaps out of the vice grip he’s put himself in and stop succumbing to the 30 or so extremists who are running the show in the House,” Schumer said. said. “Mr. Speaker, time has almost run out.”
House Republican leaders advised members that there would be votes Saturday.
It was unclear what they would be voting on.
But the announcement raised hopes among both moderate Republicans and Democrats that McCarthy might agree to hold a vote on the bipartisan Senate bill to fund the government.
The White House condemned House Republicans for engaging in fiscal brinksmanship.
“We’re doing everything we can to plead, beg, shame House Republicans to do the right thing,” Shalanda Young, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, told reporters.
She scoffed at McCarthy’s suggestion that he would refuse his own paycheck during a shutdown.
“That is theater,” Young said.
“The guy who picks up the trash in my office won’t get a paycheck. That’s real.”
The White House said Biden would stay “in dialogue with Congress,” over the coming days, but insisted the core elements of any spending bill had been agreed to as part of the debt ceiling deal earlier this year.
Across Washington on Friday, government agencies prepared their employees and the public for the effects of a shutdown.
The Smithsonian Institution said it would use existing funds from last year to keep its museums and the National Zoo open for at least the next week.
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