Senate Democrats put McCarthy in shutdown squeeze

September 26, 2023

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) is ramping up the pressure on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) to avoid a government shutdown by moving first on a stopgap funding bill that will pass the Senate this week, a few days before the September 30 deadline, reports The Hill.

The Senate’s plan is to send the bill to the House and put pressure on McCarthy to bring it to the floor for a vote it would pass with bipartisan support if given the chance, said senators who are calculating how the endgame will play out.   

But Republican and Democratic senators admit they don’t know what McCarthy will do, and some GOP senators are worried about “sticking our necks out” if the stopgap is doomed to fail in the House.

“McCarthy’s made the decision to shut the government down. Period. Stop,” Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) said, previewing the rhetorical offensive Senate Democrats will launch against McCarthy this week.

The Senate is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 26, to take the first in a series of procedural votes that will tee up the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, which Schumer will use as the legislative vehicle to pass the continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open.

McCarthy showed growing frustration with conservative rebels on Saturday, September 23, when he told reporters that hard-liners in his conference “like to stop everything, and then they turn around and say it’s your fault you’re not getting anything done.”  

He complained last Thursday that some “individuals” just “want to burn the whole place down.” 

McCarthy’s exasperation with the obstructionists in his conference has given senators hope that he may be willing to steamroll those conservative critics by bringing a Senate-passed bill straight to the House floor.

Some Democrats expressed cautious optimism on Sunday that a government shutdown can be avoided.

Assistant House Democratic Leader James Clyburn (South Carolina) told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that a shutdown “is not a foregone conclusion.

“And I don’t think we’ll get to that point. I certainly hope not,” he said.

Research contact: @thehill