Congress avoids a shutdown
DAVID GURA, HOST:
Well, now that Congress has averted a government shutdown, a new fight is underway at the Capitol - an attempt to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida says he'll move for a vote to force McCarthy out of leadership. On CBS's "Face The Nation" today, McCarthy was defiant.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FACE THE NATION")
KEVIN MCCARTHY: So be it. Bring it on. Let's get over with it, and let's start governing. If he's upset because he tried to push us in a shutdown and I made sure government didn't shut down, then let's have that fight.
GURA: We'll see how big that fight is going to be starting on Monday, when members will also start difficult negotiations over aid to Ukraine. NPR's congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales joins us now. And, Claudia, let's start with this last-minute agreement to keep the government funded, which has triggered this new fight over Republican leadership in the House of Representatives.
CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Right. McCarthy agreed to allow a vote on a bipartisan measure to extend government funding at current levels until November 17. That's a reversal. He said he would not let a vote like this happen as a result of pressure from Republicans on the hard right. This measure was very close to a Senate proposal, minus funding for Ukraine that was removed from the final bill, marking a key win for conservatives. Still, this passed the House largely with Democrats' help. And ultimately, we cannot forget that Republicans have a very narrow majority here. So there's not a lot of room for error, but there's been plenty.
GURA: This has been building, of course. McCarthy has been walking this tightrope ever since he became the House speaker after those 15 votes, very memorably. The debt limit deal he struck with President Biden earlier this year irked many in his conference, especially those hard-line Republicans who characterized that as a betrayal.
GRISALES: Right. In order to take the gavel in January, McCarthy surrendered much control in a deal with conservatives. So it only takes one member to start this process to oust him from his leadership role. The chatter about removing him really started to pick up among conservatives after the debt limit deal. That, too, was bipartisan, and it passed with the help of Democrats. And this set in motion this monthslong fight where we saw McCarthy walk away from the spending terms of that deal to appease these more conservative members. And he said they would cut funding dramatically.
But then he essentially walked that back, so he reversed on his reversal to agree to this temporary funding bill that passed with even more Democrats, this time nearly the entire caucus. And as you mentioned, Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican, said he would move with this procedural motion - move forward with it. On Monday, he told CNN's "State Of The Union" he would file what's called a motion to vacate to try and force this vote in the House chamber.
GURA: Claudia, what's your sense of how the rest of the House is going to respond to this effort by Matt Gaetz of Florida?
GRISALES: Well, Democrats are considering this question right now. They could play a role in terms of helping Gaetz try to force McCarthy out of his leadership role. Now, there's questions as to where the rest of the more conservative members of the Republican conference are. We'll have to see how they decide to proceed. This is going to be another big test, and it also speaks to the lack of trust that is threatening McCarthy's conference now, too. We saw a lot of infighting on display this past week. It's clear tensions are high.
GURA: That's NPR's congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales. Claudia, thank you very much for the time.
GRISALES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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