Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican heavyweight, voiced his belief that a government shutdown is highly probable due to the lack of progress in the House, with Senate GOP Whip John Thune joining in expressing concern over a potential standoff.
Providing further proof of the tensions mounting within the GOP over this issue, Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito voiced her criticism toward the House GOP for failing to uphold a bipartisan agreement forged between Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the White House, an agreement intended to streamline governmental funding to avert the imminent crisis.
“Once a deal has been made, I believe firmly in honoring it,” Capito declared.
As negotiations reach a boiling point with the end of the month approaching, lawmakers are scrambling to resolve major discrepancies between the two legislative chambers, not only on overall spending levels, but crucial policy issues as well.
Among these controversial topics is whether to continue backing Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia—a topic that is strongly backed by top senators from both the Republican and Democratic parties, but splits the House GOP.
In addition to matters pertaining to Ukraine, Speaker McCarthy is under immense pressure from his right flank. They had previously taken the House control during the summer contesting the debt ceiling law, compelling McCarthy to pursue further budget cuts than initially planned.
The House and Senate now face a staggering $153 billion discrepancy in governmental funding for the fiscal year commencing October 1st—a rift that even GOP senators fear may be insurmountable.
Eventual threats from McCarthy’s right-wing faction of overthrowing his leadership if he agrees to higher funding levels add another layer of complexity. To plunge the House into chaos, they would merely require a single member to call for a vote and five to vote against him.
Before announcing any shutdown, however, Congress must pass a short-term spending bill. Yet, it is uncertain whether this will be approved before the September 30th deadline.
Rep. Kevin Hern, a Republican from Oklahoma who leads a conservative group dubbed the Republican Study Committee, insists that the two contentious issues of disaster aid and Ukraine funding should be dealt with separately. He urges the White House to explain its demand for such an expansive aid package for a foreign war.
Meanwhile, proponents of providing aid to Ukraine warn that any compromise could result in Russia emerging victoriously from the conflict. They argue that such an outcome will have catastrophic global consequences.
Despite the division within the GOP over this issue, several important figures, including Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, have endorsed continued support for Ukraine in its war with Russia.
“I might not see eye-to-eye with all of the views expressed by my House colleagues, but they are spot on about the need to rein in spending and limit debt accumulation,” expressed Louisiana GOP Senator John Kennedy. He added, “The real test will arise when we appoint a conference committee.”