WASHINGTON: More than four million US military personnel and government workers resumed their work on Monday, as did Congress, after rare weekend votes in both chambers prevented a government shutdown.
But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, whose last-minute move prevented the shutdown just three hours before it would have taken effect, now faces another move — a vote to oust him.
Matt Gaetz, a member of the lobby that tied to force the shutdown, is now seeking a vote of no-confidence against the speaker this week, apparently for playing a key role in avoiding the closure. Both are Republicans who dominate the House.
On Saturday, when the House voted 335-91 to avoid the closure, the speaker dared his detractors that “If somebody wants to make a motion against me” for preventing the closure, they should “bring it” now.
Gaetz, a Conservative from Florida, accepted the challenge. “I do intend to file a motion to vacate against Speaker McCarthy this week,” he told CNN. McCarthy is a California Republican.
‘Rip off the Band-Aid’
“I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid,” said Gaetz while attacking the speaker and other Republicans who voted for the aversion. “I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy,” he added.
Gaetz belongs to a conservative lobby within the Republican Party, which favors former president Donald Trump and some of its members support Trump’s claim that President Joe Biden rigged the 2020 elections.
Speaker McCarthy thwarted their move by presenting a new bill which allows the government to stay open for 45 days, giving the House and Senate more time to finish their funding legislation.
The Senate, where Democrats are a majority, passed the bill but only 3 hours before a 12:01am shutdown of the federal government would have taken effect. The measure was signed into law by President Biden late Saturday night. More than four million US military personnel and government workers would have been forced to stay at home if the speaker’s counter measure had not passed.
The shutdown would have also prevented pensioners from getting get their monthly payments in time to pay bills and buy groceries. It would closed national parks too.
The new package gives the Biden administration enough time to work out a spending plan that would be acceptable to Congress. In the US system, Congress has to approve the government’s spendings except those meant for emergency services.
According to the US media, the speaker launched his move to avoid the shutdown on Friday night, acknowledging that he will have to rely on Democrats to do so. And, just eight minutes before midnight he quietly filed the new bill. While promising to keep the government open through Nov 17, the new bill suggested cutting out aid for Ukraine, which was not acceptable to at least one Democratic senator. And it created some last-minute drama, which was sorted out.
Asked why he presented a new bill, McCarthy told reporters moments after the House passed the bill. “There has to be an adult in the room.” McCarthy’s moment of triumph came when 209 Democrats joined 126 Republicans to pass the bill. Just one Democrat voted no.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2023