(CNN) — Tensions erupted as House Republicans met behind closed-doors on Thursday, the latest sign of deep divisions and infighting as the House GOP conference has failed to coalesce around a plan to avert a shutdown.
GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz and Speaker Kevin McCarthy got into a testy exchange during the meeting, according to a source in the room. Gaetz stood up and confronted McCarthy about whether his allies were paying conservative influencers to bash Gaetz in social media posts – an allegation circulating on social media and one the speaker’s office has denied.
McCarthy’s response, according to the source in the room, was that he wouldn’t waste his time or money on Gaetz. Another source said McCarthy also shot back that he doesn’t know what Gaetz is spending time on, but he (the speaker) is donating $5 million to help keep the majority.
McCarthy and Gaetz have long had a tense relationship and Gaetz has led the charge in threatening to force a vote to oust the speaker as pressure on McCarthy builds during the shutdown spending fight and hardline conservatives balk at the prospect of passing any kind of short-term funding extension to keep the government opening.
With only three days to go before government funding expires, Congress is barreling toward a shutdown with the House and Senate at an impasse over a path forward.
House Republicans are planning late night votes Thursday on a series of spending bills, though they may not have enough GOP support to pass and would be dead on arrival in the Senate.
If some or all of the bills fail, it could provoke another chaotic scene on the House floor, but GOP leadership believes if that happens it could also demonstrate that a short-term funding extension is the only viable path forward as a number of hardline conservatives continue to say they are opposed to a stopgap bill to avert a shutdown.
And despite the fact that House GOP leadership does not currently have the votes for their short-term spending bill, the plan remains that the House will vote tomorrow on a measure, three sources told CNN.
McCarthy has been saying all week this was the plan but as the hardliners have dug in, it remained an open question if he’d go through with it, risk a potentially embarrassing vote and be seen as unable to pass a bill out of his chamber before a Saturday midnight deadline.
Meanwhile, the Senate is working to advance a bipartisan stopgap bill that would keep the government open through November 17 and provide additional aid to Ukraine and disaster relief. McCarthy has so far dismissed that bill.
As the September 30 shutdown deadline rapidly approaches, the federal government has begun preparing for its effects.
A shutdown could have enormous impacts across the country, in consequential areas ranging from air travel to clean drinking water, as many government operations would come to a halt, while services deemed “essential” would continue.
The nearly 4 million Americans who are federal employees will feel the effect immediately. Essential workers will remain on the job, but others will be furloughed until the shutdown is over. None will be paid during the impasse. For many, a shutdown would strain their finances, as it did during the record 35-day funding lapse in 2018-2019.
Democratic and Republicans alike have been highlighting the potential impacts of a shutdown as they warn against a lapse in funding.
“It’s important to remember that if we shut down the government – for those of us who are concerned about the border and want it to be improved – the border patrol … have to continue to work for nothing,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said at a news conference Wednesday.
US Border Patrol agents are considered essential and will continue to perform their law enforcement functions, including apprehending migrants crossing the border unlawfully, during a government shutdown – but without pay.
The White House is sounding alarms about massive disruptions to air travel as tens of thousands of air traffic controllers and Transportation Security Administration personnel work without pay. During the 2019 shutdown, hundreds of TSA officers called out from work – many of them to find other ways to make money.
The White House has warned that a shutdown could risk “significant delays for travelers” across the country.
The White House has also warned of impacts to national security, including the 1.3 million active-duty troops who would not get paid during a shutdown.
As the Senate works to advance its bipartisan bill, it’s not yet clear when a final vote can take place in the chamber.
GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has said he will slow walk any bill with additional Ukraine funding. Without the consent of all 100 members to speed up the time it takes to consider the bill, it’s not clear whether the chamber could pass the measure before the shutdown deadline.
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