House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is facing a lot of backlash and pushback from hard-line members of his own party, making it hard for the leader to craft a deal to avert a full government shutdown.
Yet, Politico reported this week that small groups of centrist Democrats have been holding talks in secret with several people considered close allies to McCarthy, in hopes of negotiating a last-minute deal that would fund the government.
Citing a few people who were familiar with those discussions, Politico reported that some of McCarthy’s allies are holding these talks because they’re seriously concerned the House GOP won’t be able to avoid a government shutdown by itself – thanks to a small group of far-right conservatives who don’t align with the Speaker.
Most of the lawmakers who have been involved in these negotiations belong to either the New Democrat Coalition, the Republican Governance Group and/or the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.
These lawmakers have worked hard to keep news about their negotiations out of the public eye. GOP members don’t want to reveal that they have this backup plan just yet, because they want to wait until the other tools McCarthy might have at his disposal have proven to fail.
The deadline to pass a spending bill – even a stopgap one – to avoid a government shutdown is September 30.
Republican Representative Don Bacon of Nebraska recently commented on these negotiations, pointing to the inevitability of what’s ahead and why these GOP House members are taking this route.
He said of the negotiations on a spending bill:
“It’s got to be bipartisan anyway, at some point. So, why negotiate with these five or 10 people who move the goalposts?”
Politico’s sources said there are two ideas that the negotiating group is trying to focus on.
One is forcing a vote on a potential spending plan compromise through a congressional procedural maneuver. The other other idea is trying to craft a spending bill that’s so popular with members of the House that McCarthy will have the ability to pass it and then survive whatever challenge the far-right members present.
That hypothetical bill would probably need to be a patchwork short-term bill that includes some money for disaster relief, some additional aid for Ukraine and some new border policies that are on the smaller scale.
The Problem Solvers Caucus started to reveal the framework they’ve come up with to its members on Wednesday, and they had planned to hold a formal vote to endorse that plan shortly, sources told Politico.
Three other sources told the media outlet that aides for the Republican Governance Group as well as for the New Democrat Coalition met on Wednesday as well to discuss their stopgap funding ideas.
These groups all met with the intent to try to avoid a government shutdown, but they’ve also discussed whether Democrats would be willing to protect McCarthy if House GOP members decide to bring up a vote that would strip him of the gavel.
While many Democrats have said they’d be willing to protect McCarthy’s spot, they’d likely demand concessions. Plus, they’d need to get the head of their party, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, to sign off on it.