WEAKNESS ON DISPLAY: Senate Republicans Worry Kevin McCarthy Is Going To Squander House Majority
Senate Republicans are expressing concern about House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s ability to unify his conference next year amid continued infighting in their caucus.
As reported by The Hill, the California Republican is struggling to line up 218 votes to become Speaker, thus underscoring the challenges he will face passing spending bills or any other major pieces of legislation next year.
The news outlet cited Senate Republicans saying that “McCarthy will likely have to rely on Democratic votes to pass spending bills next year to make up for defections within his own conference,” which will undercut his negotiating leverage and spark fights with the ultra-MAGA House Freedom Caucus.
This dynamic has prompted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his allies to push to pass a year-end spending package, including an increase in spending for defense and military assistance for Ukraine before the crazies take over the asylum.
They want to avoid a messy political situation at the start of the new Congress, which could put the defense budget and other federal spending priorities in limbo for months.
McConnell’s allies are speaking out against freezing federal spending levels until 2023. They worry that kicking spending decisions until next year could risk a legislative pileup in the House, and a potential standoff with Senate Democrats and President Biden with the threat of a government shutdown looming over it.
“There are those who believe that moving something this year takes one issue off the table, off the plate, next year that they’d have to deal with right away,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) about the reluctance among Senate Republicans about dumping a messy spending negotiation for fiscal 2023 onto the incoming House GOP majority, According to The Hill.
“They’re going to, obviously, have their hands full. Any narrow majority, Democratic or Republican — as the Democrats found the last two years — creates a real challenge from a managing-the-institution standpoint. I don’t think a narrow Republican majority will be any different,” Thune added.
Meanwhile, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, predicted that punting spending decisions into next year would create a train wreck in early 2023.
“I think the worst thing we could do to a newly formed Republican House is send them a [continuing resolution] into early in the year. I just don’t think they’ll be ready for it — for good reasons, even if they were totally prepared and capable,” Blunt said.
“This is something that takes quite a while to deal with, and it will be a mistake for them and us both if we make it,” warned Blunt, who is retiring at the end of this Congress.
A Senate Republican aide was more unabashed about McCarthy’s predicament, saying it would be virtually impossible for the presumptive House Speaker to negotiate a spending deal with Democrats early next year given how narrow his majority will be and how much pressure he is currently under from belligerent House conservatives.
“I don’t think there is a word to describe how impossible it will be,” the aide said. “I think that everybody understands that we have to do an omnibus.
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