House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the Republican Party in the lower chamber of Congress, told his fellow GOP members during a conference call that he thinks it’ll be necessary for Congress to pass a short-term funding bill to avoid a full-blown government shutdown in the fall.
Two sources who have knowledge of the situation spoke to NBC News about the call, which was held this week.
Those comments from McCarthy seem to suggest that it’s unlikely that a complete funding bill for the next fiscal year would be very hard to agree on before the deadline of September 30. Washington lawmakers are out of town for the full month of August, and won’t return from their recess until after Labor Day.
At this point, the two sources told NBC News that it wasn’t clear how much extra time Republicans would push for in extending the deadline to reach a full-year funding deal.
One of the sources said McCarthy wants to put a deadline in place that would push Congress to around the Christmas holiday. The other source said they didn’t remember McCarthy mentioned a specific time period for the potential stopgap funding bill.
This falls in line with what Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday – that during a recent meeting with McCarthy, the two agreed they would work on a stopgap bill. The bill is often referred to as a CR, or a continuing resolution.
During an appearance on the “Morning Joe” program on MSNBC, Schumer said:
“Speaker McCarthy and I met a few weeks back and we agreed we should do what’s called a CR – in other words, a congressional resolution where you just extend the existing funding for a few months so we could work this out.
“And I thought that was a good sign. But, I would say this: Our Republican colleagues in the House need to follow the lead of their Republican colleagues in the Senate and work in a bipartisan way.”
To approve a CR, both parties would have to agree on a length of time that it will be good for, as well as on terms of the policy. While that would seemingly be simpler than coming to an agreement on a full-fledged funding bill, it still may be a challenge to do so before the end of September.
While the private and public comments from party leaders would seem to indicate at least some sense of optimism that a stopgap bill will be agreed upon, not everyone is in agreement.
Republican Representative Tony Gonzales from Texas, for instance, said he came away from the conference call with McCarthy with one thought in mind. He tweeted:
“I just got off a member call – it’s clear President Biden and Speaker McCarthy want a government shutdown, so that’s what Congress will do after we return in September. Everyone should plan accordingly.”
Agreeing on a full funding package has proven difficult thus far, as both parties are taking their proposals in completely different directions.