McCarthy changes his mind on help to Ukraine as the GOP scrambles to pass spending legislation

After suffering two defeats, Republicans are now trying to shore up support by going back on their original position.

As Republicans race to find a path forward on funding the government, Speaker Kevin McCarthy is walking back his idea to strip Ukraine aid from a major military spending measure.

After receiving pressure from fellow Republicans, the California Republican has reversed course and will now let the nearly $300 million to remain in the Pentagon bill.

On Saturday, however, McCarthy announced in the Capitol that the package will move forward with the Ukraine aid included, reasoning that it would be too hard to remove due to the Republicans’ funding approach of bringing the Defense bill to the floor alongside other legislation. After two previous failures in recent weeks, this move casts new question on whether or not the Pentagon budget bill will be debated at all.

“It became too difficult to do that, so we’re leaving it in,” McCarthy said to the press about the Ukraine money.

A vote to begin debate on four agency budget bills, including the Defense, State, Homeland Security, and an agriculture package, is scheduled for Tuesday, and Republicans are expected to approve it. This would be McCarthy’s most recent effort to get his party’s financing bills moving.

Whether they have the votes remains unclear, notwithstanding the most recent maneuvering on Ukraine aid. And even if Republicans are successful in kicking up discussion, or passing any of the four bills, the shutdown still will begin on October 1.

Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) emphasized the unpredictability by calling his Republican colleagues and urging them to let leadership know if they plan to vote against bringing the measures to the floor, since they don’t conduct a formal vote check for procedural actions.

Member of the Rules Committee and Representative for Indiana, Erin Houchin (R), remarked, “We’ll see if we get there” when asked about the vote to begin discussion on Tuesday.

The yo-yoing on the Ukraine money highlights the day-to-day instability of the House GOP’s funding approach, which has almost no space to maneuver due to their tiny majority and a spate of lawmakers’ absences.

To give one specific example, Republicans sought to win over Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who voted against beginning discussion on the Defense bill earlier this week, by eliminating funding for the Ukrainian government.

However, the bigger compromise made with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and other hardliners included the financing measures for the State Department and others in exchange for the bill’s passage to the floor. Since the State bill also includes funding relating to Ukraine, this created a fresh complication with Greene. Given their interconnected nature, the Georgia Republican is likely to vote against bringing either bill to a vote regardless of what happens with funding for the Department of Defense.

“I anticipate her voting against the rule. That’s why I tried to find a solution that would work for everyone involved. McCarthy told the press, “But this one, it didn’t work out.

Republicans have decided to allow a floor vote to remove the Ukraine-related monies from both the Defense and State bills, effectively insuring that the spending will stay in with the cooperation of Democrats, rather than removing the aid for Ukraine from the Defense measure and voting on it separately.

Republicans are attempting to convince holdouts like Gaetz to support the short-term spending patch that will be needed to avoid a shutdown if they can get some of the larger funding legislation passed.

Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Montana), one of the holdouts, talked with reporters after Saturday’s conference call and emphasized that he does not support a continuing resolution, a short-term bill.

McCarthy has proposed a financing plan with a 30-day extension, a Republican border bill, and the establishment of a debt committee. He suggested to his constituents on Saturday that the stopgap funding be extended by another 45 days so that the House has more time to pass full-year budget bills and negotiate with the White House and the Senate.

McCarthy’s proposal comes after enough conservatives have publicly opposed a 30-day stop-gap funding bill that can’t pass without help from Democrats, with some of the GOP holdouts arguing that the House should focus on only passing those larger funding bills despite the fact that doing so would guarantee a shutdown.

McCarthy ally Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) blasted the position as “stupid strategy,” saying that they would never be able to pass all the necessary spending bills before the end of the month.

We’re in a position where the arsonists are complaining loudly that their house is on fire, as one commentator put it. Two, they’ll want credit for extinguishing the blaze. Finally, Graves added, “they’re going to set up a GoFundMe page to get reimbursed.

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