What to Know in Washington: McCarthy Flips Some GOP Holdouts

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Speaker Kevin McCarthy won the support of a few hardliners last night in his effort to quell his restive right flank and pass a short-term spending bill, but the risk of a shutdown remains high.

After a closed-door meeting that lasted more than two hours, the besieged speaker was still short of the votes he needs to pass a Republican-only spending measure that has no chance of winning support in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

Should McCarthy (R-Calif.) ultimately succeed, the House-passed bill would at least set the parameters for a possible negotiation with the Senate on federal spending.

His latest offer would impose a temporary 8% domestic spending cut and toughen immigration laws. It also would create a fiscal commission to review changes to entitlement spending.

To sweeten the deal, McCarthy proposed that the GOP agree to a top-line spending level for all fiscal 2024 bills that totals $1.526 trillion, a $64 billion cut from the cap in this year’s debt ceiling agreement negotiated with the White House. In another concession to his rebellious members, McCarthy called on Republicans to reject so-called budget gimmicks, which would make the effects of those cuts even deeper.

The House now plans to bring a stalled defense spending bill blocked earlier this week by five conservatives and unified Democrats to the floor again today. That could clear the way for a vote on the short-term spending measure on Saturday, lawmakers said. Erik Wasson, Billy House and Laura Litvan have the latest.

Freshmen Republicans Brace for Their First Shutdown

GOP freshmen who flipped their House districts red in 2022 are desperately trying to distance themselves from the small group of conservative dissidents threatening to shut down the government.

Over 30% of the current House members first joined the chamber after the 2018-19 shutdown ended, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Government. These lawmakers have never experienced the anger and frustration that comes when there is gridlock and agencies are forced to close, leaving many — especially Republican lawmakers — wrestling over how to avoid being blamed for it by voters. Maeve Sheehey highlights the freshman take on the impending shutdown.


  • President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden host Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and First Lady Olena Zelenska at the White House around 3 p.m.
  • Biden will deliver remarks at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute 46th Annual Gala at the Washington Convention Center after 8 p.m.


  • The House back at 9 a.m. for a third shot at advancing a defense spending bill.
  • Senators are set to vote on more Defense Department nominees.
  • For the full detailed agenda read BGOV’s Congress Tracker.

Zelenskiy Seeks Support Across Washington

Photo: Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy delivers remarks during the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 19, 2023.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKIY and BIDEN meet today to press for sustained support to counter Russia. Zelenskiy will also meet with military leaders at the Pentagon, yet the success of his trip hinges on his morning visit to Capitol Hill, where he’ll try to rally support for a new weapons package in exchanges with lawmakers from both chambers and both parties.

  • Far-right representatives have increasingly called for the US to end assistance to Ukraine, saying the funding antagonizes Russia, could be better spent domestically, or should instead be devoted to bolstering Taiwan’s defenses. Read more.
  • Zelenskiy met yesterday with financial leaders including Ken Griffin and Bill Ackman to discuss using private-sector funds to help rebuild his country. Read more.

Also Happening on Capitol Hill

GEN. CHARLES Q. BROWN JR. was confirmed as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by the Senate yesterday. The 83-11 vote came after Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) maneuvered to break a months-long blockade of military promotions by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.). Read more.

PETE BUTTIGIEG and the WHITE HOUSE warned yesterday that a shutdown would negatively impact transportation, bringing longer wait times for travelers at airports as well as delays to infrastructure projects. Read more.

THE HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT is staring down expiration dates for a slate of protection measures with no guarantee Congress will step in to preserve them. Lawmakers already let one program lapse: standards to keep dangerous chemicals out of terrorists’ hands. DHS’s powers to combat threatening drones and root out weapons of mass destruction are also due to expire this year. Read more.

BIDEN is running short on time to fill three newly created top Justice Department vacancies with Senate-confirmed leaders as the 2024 election approaches. The Office of Legal Counsel, the Criminal Division, and the Office of Legal Policy will become harder to fill permanently the closer it gets to the end of the president’s first term. Read more.

THE WASHINGTON COMMANDERS are a step closer to returning to RFK Stadium, but plenty of local and federal controversy awaits. The House Committee on Oversight and Accountability advanced a bill that would extend for 99 years a lease of about 170 acres of federal lands at the stadium for the District government to determine how to redevelop. Read more.

People, Power, and Politics

DONALD TRUMP plans to skip the third Republican presidential debate scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, extending his strategy of avoiding forums that include his lower-polling rivals. Read more.

  • Related: Biden said Trump looks destined to be the Republican party’s 2024 nominee at a campaign fundraiser in New York. Read more.

HUNTER BIDEN must appear in-person to his Oct. 3 arraignment, US District Magistrate Judge Christopher Burke ruled yesterday in Delaware.

  • Burke wrote that he understood his order would cause “some amount of logistical inconvenience” for both Biden and the Secret Service, but that in-person appearances were important to emphasize the “solemnity” of a criminal case and in case any last-minute issues came up. Read more.

What Else We’re Reading

Rising Seas Imperil Military Bases, Federal Facilities

Rising tides and powerful storms turbocharged by climate change are poised to hobble federal facilities worth at least $387 billion in coming decades, disrupting everything from veterans’ medical care to military operations and space exploration, according to a Bloomberg Government analysis.

UAW Says New Stellantis Offer Doesn’t Look Good

Stellantis’ new contract offer to the United Auto Workers lacks the job security guarantees the union wants, a negotiator said, suggesting workers will reject it days before a deadline to expand their historic strike.

US Offers Migrants Faster Work Permits, Protections

The Biden administration is providing deportation protection and work permits for hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans and fast-tracking consideration of work permits for other groups of migrants.

Drugmakers Aren’t Waiting for Medicare Tax Details

The threat of a massive tax is enough to push drugmakers to comply with the Biden administration’s landmark drug pricing law and negotiate with Medicare.

To contact the reporters on this story: Giuseppe Macri in Washington at gmacri@bgov.com; Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com; Jeannie Baumann in Washington at jbaumann@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

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