McCarthy Faces Govt. Shutdown & Impeachment Decisions

After a lengthy summer break, Congress is back in session, and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is in the middle of a political impasse on issues like funding the government, backing Ukraine in the war, and opening an impeachment process against President Joe Biden.

McCarthy’s capacity to lead the House is threatened by the rise of a hard-right caucus opposed to business as usual in Washington.

Congress must act before the end of the month to avoid a potentially catastrophic government shutdown if it fails to provide enough funding for government operations. Once the House starts on Tuesday, 11 more working days will be before the next recess. McCarthy may shift his focus to another conservative objective, opening an impeachment investigation into Hunter Biden’s business contacts with the White House to smooth the way.

McCarthy sees switching between the two as a unique and politically risky venture. Initiating an impeachment investigation against Biden might win over conservative supporters of Trump, who has emerged as the Republican favorite to face Biden in the 2024 presidential race. The White House has said that Joe Biden is not engaged in his son’s company, but Trump’s supporters in the Republican-controlled House are working tirelessly to find connections between the elder Biden and his son’s enterprise.

McCarthy and Biden reached a more than $1 trillion compromise over the debt ceiling, but it seems like the process to finance the government is coming apart. House Freedom Caucus-led conservatives are demanding that government spending be reduced to 2022 levels, along with the inclusion of other legislative demands. If not, they will fight against a stopgap measure to keep the government open, known as a continuing resolution (CR).

Since McCarthy’s margin for error would be much less once Utah Republican Rep. Chris Stewart’s departure takes effect on Friday, the far right may prevent him from passing a Republican bill alone. McCarthy may face further difficulties if he is seen as disloyal to his ranks and relies on Democratic votes.