Partisan Stopgap Bill Emerges as Shutdown Looms

September 18, 2023

House GOP leadership had hope to use their first week back to advance several appropriation bills, but pushback from the House Freedom Caucus once again held up action on the floor. But late Sunday night, House Republicans among themselves on a 30 day continuing resolution to fund the government.

Why it matters: The stopgap bill will kick off negotiations, but McCarthy will likely have to buck hardliners to fund the government.

  • The CR includes spending cuts, hardline immigration restrictions, no disaster relief funding, and no Ukraine funding. Those provisions won’t fly with Democrats in the House, Senate, or White House.
  • While McCarthy has been able to power through tough fights before (e.g., debt ceiling), it took Democratic votes and remains a sore spot for the Freedom Caucus.
  • McCarthy’s announcement of an impeachment inquiry sought to placate some of his conference, but it does not appear to have been enough to cool tempers on spending. The inquiry also strains McCarthy’s relationship with Democratic leadership.

What they’re saying: Puchbowl News broke the news on the CR and included bill summaries from the various House GOP factions. Here’s a summary of the proposal from the Main Street Caucus, and here’s one from the House Freedom Caucus. Announcing an agreement among the fractious conference is an achievement.

Yes, but: It is unclear if the CR will even pass the House.

  • Last week, House Republicans were unable to advance a party-line defense appropriations bill after a conservative wing delayed the bill to try to push more government spending cuts.
  • McCarthy could not count on Democratic support for the defense bill since it included many partisan provisions targeting diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at DOD. The same is true for this CR.

The Senate, however, made progress by advancing one of three spending “minibus” packages for a final vote expected this week.

  • Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murry (D-WA) and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME) have taken a diligent approach to clearing bills out of committee in a bipartisan fashion in order to clear the 60 vote hurdle over a filibuster.
  • To avert a shutdown, the Senate can modify the one House-passed appropriations bill to fashion an omnibus or continuing resolution. That would require the House to vote on the bill again, however.

What’s next: No one knows.

  • Absent some negotiating breakthrough, McCarthy’s options have been to put a bill on the House floor that either 1) cannot pass the Senate or 2) attract Democratic votes and anger critics in his own party.
  • The CR is Option 1. If the House passes the CR, McCarthy can claim an initial victory.
  • Some are looking to the Senate progress as the way forward.

Contact David McCarthy ( with questions. 


David McCarthy
Managing Director, Head of Policy

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Without Congressional action federal government funding authority expires after September 30.

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