What to Know in Washington: Democrats Weigh McCarthy Rescue

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Republican party divisions are intensifying in the aftermath of Saturday’s last-ditch deal to keep the government running until Nov. 17. as a drive to overthrow Speaker Kevin McCarthy threatens to shake the balance of power in the Capitol.

The alliances that emerge from this fight will have far-reaching ramifications for the Republican-controlled House’s ideological fervor and hunger for brinkmanship.

Photographer: Anna Rose Layden/Bloomberg

If Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) can persuade just four more GOP hardliners to join his mutiny, it would succeed combined with nearly unified Democratic opposition against McCarthy (R-Calif.). However, Democrats could help McCarthy either by voting against the motion, or choosing not to vote at all.

A rescue by Democrats would push the speaker into what amounts to a coalition government in the House, a remarkable shift that would force a reappraisal of the House’s legislative agenda.

Read more: McCarthy Shutdown Turnabout Came With Phone Flurry, Blame Gamble

Centrist Democrats have signaled they would consider rescuing McCarthy, but that was before he launched a polarizing impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, a move that failed to quell his restive right flank.

McCarthy’s ouster would open a leadership vacuum in the House with no obvious successor to unify the fractious party. Plus, there are still Democrats in Washington who see McCarthy — particularly a McCarthy willing to make deals with Democrats — as a better alternative than any potential successor. Billy House has more on the conflict.

One potential carrot McCarthy could offer Democrats: aid to Ukraine for its war with Russia.

The continuing resolution buys lawmakers time to negotiate longer-term federal funding, but doesn’t include $6 billion in funding for Ukraine. Lawmakers in both parties who support the Ukraine funding said that would be handled separately.

Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Hiroshima on May 21. Susan Walsh/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

“I fully expect the speaker to keep his commitment to secure passage and support needed to help Ukraine as they defend themselves against aggression and brutality,” Biden said yesterday at the White House. “There’s an overwhelming number of Republicans and Democrats in both the House and the Senate who support Ukraine. Let’s vote on it.” Akayla Gardner details more of Biden’s response.


  • The president will convene a Cabinet meeting around 4:30 p.m. for an update on AI and gun violence.
  • Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold a briefing around12:30 p.m.


  • The House is back today at 2 p.m., with plans to vote this week on two more spending bills.
  • The Senate returns tomorrow to consider more of Biden’s nominees.
  • For more details on the full agenda read BGOV’s Congress Tracker

What’s Next After an Averted Shutdown

THE FAA will have its authority extended through Dec. 31 under a measure tucked into the broader stopgap as long-term reauthorization remains tied up.

Bloomberg Government/Seemeen Hashem

The House passed its version of the five-year FAA reauthorization (H.R. 3935) in July, but the Senate’s measure (S. 1939) has been stuck in the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee over disagreement on pilot training.

  • It’s common for Congress to rely on temporary FAA extensions when it can’t come to an agreement on multiyear policy-setting bills. Read more.
  • Read the full BGOV Bill Summary for more details on programs extended by the stopgap.

REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN is accused of pulling a fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building Saturday while lawmakers worked to hash out the stopgap deal. The New York Democrat told reporters he had been trying to open a door.

  • “I want to be very clear, this was not me, in any way, trying to delay any vote,” Bowman said in a statement. “It was the exact opposite — I was trying urgently to get to a vote, which I ultimately did and joined my colleagues in a bipartisan effort to keep our government open.”
  • McCarthy said he would seek an ethics investigation into the incident. Read more.

People, Power and Politics

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Emily’s List President Laphonza Butler address a Biden-Harris campaign rally on the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision in Washington, D.C.

LAPHONZA BUTLER was selected by GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM to fill the remainder of late Senator Dianne Feinstein’s term, making her the only Black woman in the current Senate and just the third in its history.

  • Butler is the president of Emily’s List and has a history as a longtime labor leader in California, including having served as president of SEIU Local 2015, the biggest union in the state. Read more.

BIDEN expressed concern over an effort by the group No Labels to consider mounting a third-party 2024 presidential ticket, saying in a ProPubica interview published yesterday it would only serve to help elect the Republican nominee. Read more.

DONALD TRUMP is planning to go to New York court this morning to attend a civil trial accusing him of inflating his net worth, according to his post on Truth Social. Read more.

  • Trump’s deposition in the $500 million lawsuit he filed against his former lawyer Michael Cohen was delayed by a week by a Florida judge so Trump could attend the start of the New York trial. Read more.

ANTI-TRUMP ATTACK ADS are convincing Republican primary voters to support the former president’s White House bid, according to the Win it Back PAC, a super political action committee that has spent millions of dollars to persuade GOP voters to support anybody but Trump. Read more.

GOV. RON DESANTIS said Friday at a campaign event that he would block government spending bills he deems too costly as president, potentially triggering federal shutdowns. Read more.

  • Meanwhile, Never Back Down, the super PAC supporting the Florida governor’s White House bid cut more than $530,000 in reserved time on broadcast television stations in Iowa and New Hampshire on Friday in what the group said was a shift in strategies following the second Republican debate. Read more.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeannie Baumann at jbaumann@bloombergindustry.com; Brandon Lee at blee@bgov.com

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