House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) over whether Republicans should wrangle an omnibus spending bill through Congress before Christmas.
McConnell has publicly left the door open to cutting a deal with Democrats on a spending omnibus measure, while McCarthy has opposed doing so, insisting Republicans will have more leverage to curtail spending after they take over the House.
“If a truly bipartisan full-year bill without poison pills is ready for Senate passage next week, then I’ll support it for our armed forces particularly; otherwise, we’ll be passing a short-term continuing resolution into the new year,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday.
Meanwhile, in private, McCarthy reportedly told members of his conference this week he is a “hell no” on an omnibus package before the year’s end. His hard stance on spending helps serve as an overture to the growing GOP mutiny against his bid for the speaker’s gavel, which appears in jeopardy amid a multitude of defections in his slim House majority.
McCarthy has refused to criticize McConnell publicly; however, he has been critical of his seeming willingness to deal with the Democrats.
“We would be stronger in any negotiation. Any Republican trying to work with them is wrong,” McCarthy told Fox News’s Laura Ingraham last week. “Why would you want to work on anything if we [don’t] have the gavel inside Congress … wait until we’re in charge.”
Some conservative senators appear to agree with McCarthy, while others are privately siding with McConnell.
“We have completely and totally abdicated the power of the purse. Republicans are emasculated. They have no power, and they are unwilling to gain that power back,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said on Fox Business Wednesday.
But given the threadbare House GOP majority, McCarthy’s hand in pushing through an omnibus bill once Republicans are in charge of the House could be weak if members of the rightward flank of the party may oppose a hypothetical deal struck with the Senate. Such defiance could force him to lean on Democrats.
“We should do a bill now because I don’t see a path for a bill in the next year. [Continuing resolutions] become more damaging the longer they last,” one anonymous GOP senator told the Hill. “Everything I know is that McCarthy is privately cheering us on to get it done, but he’s in this position of trying to get the votes for speaker.”