House Republicans fail to advance defense bill for second time this week – live

House Republicans again fail to advance defense spending bill in ominous sign for stopping government shutdown

A vote in the Republican-led House to advance an annual defense department funding bill failed for the second time this week, after rightwing lawmakers joined with Democrats to oppose its passage:

It’s an ominous sign for the separate effort to fund the government beyond 30 September, since both rightwing Republicans and Democrats oppose a motion to prevent a shutdown proposed by House speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Key events

Joan E Greve

Joan E Greve

Given that the defense spending bill is usually one of the least contentious spending measures in the House, the second failed vote spelled major trouble for the spending talks.

If no agreement is reached on a series of funding bills, the federal government will shutter on 30 September. In the event of a shutdown, starting 1 October, hundreds of thousands of federal workers would likely go without pay and key healthcare and other public programs would be affected.

There are several unknowns still hanging over House speaker Kevin McCarthy’s effort, which, as the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, has pointed out, could be politically damaging to the party.

The first is whether hard-right members of the House Freedom Caucus – who have capitalized on McCarthy’s narrow majority – will eventually abandon their blockade as the shutdown deadline approaches.

The second is if whatever bill Republicans do pass will include the Ukraine aid and disaster relief funding the Democratic-led Senate is demanding. Without Senate agreement, any measure cannot be enacted.

Joan E Greve

Joan E Greve

The House Republican speaker, Kevin McCarthy, was dealt his second humiliating defeat of the week on Thursday, when his conference again failed to approve a procedural motion as members continued to clash over government spending levels with just days left to avert a federal shutdown.

A proposal to take up House Republicans’ defense spending bill failed in a vote of 216 to 212, with five hard-right members joining Democrats in opposing the motion. The vote marked the second time this week that the motion had failed, after members of the House Freedom Caucus first blocked the bill on Tuesday.

The defeat was interpreted as a dismal sign for House Republicans’ prospects of approving a separate stopgap spending bill before government funding runs out at the end of the month.

McCarthy had projected optimism heading into the Thursday vote, saying he and his allies had made substantial progress in their talks with the holdout Republicans on Wednesday. But five members of the House Freedom Caucus – Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Eli Crane of Arizona, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Matt Rosendale of Montana – still opposed the procedural motion on Thursday.

The Senate voted to confirm Gen Randy George to be army chief of staff, a key vote that follows a months-long hold by Republican senator Tommy Tuberville on more than 300 military promotions.

Senators confirmed George by a 96-1 vote, with only Republican senator Mike Lee voting against him.

The vote comes a day after the Senate cleared Gen Charles “CQ” Brown to become the next chair of the joint chiefs of staff. The Senate is expected to confirm Gen Eric Smith to lead the Marine Corps later today.

The confirmations come as tensions have continued to rise over Tuberville’s decision to single-handedly hold up military appointments as part of his opposition to abortion being provided in the armed forces.

As a result of Tuberville’s block on Senate-confirmed promotions, more than 300 senior roles are being filled in an acting capacity. Military officials have bemoaned the effects of Tuberville’s blocks on officers’ families and finances.

Even the position of chair of the joint chief of staff stands to be affected, when the current occupant, Gen Mark Milley, steps down at the end of this month.

The day so far

The chaos continues in the House, where an ongoing revolt by far-right Republicans against speaker Kevin McCarthy stopped the advancement of a defense department spending bill for the second time this week. It’s a bad sign for a separate attempt to pass a measure to keep the federal government funded past 30 September, which is also being held up the rightwing insurgents. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, visited the Capitol to call for more aid to help his country fend off the Russian invasion.

Here’s what else is happening today:

  • McCarthy blamed “individuals that just want to burn the whole place down” for the ongoing paralysis in the House.

  • Rupert Murdoch will step down as chairman of Fox and News Corp, with his son Lachlan Murdoch taking his place, an earthquake in the world of conservative media.

  • The House minority leader, Hakeem Jeffries, said the GOP is “in the midst of a civil war”.

Never one to keep quiet, Donald Trump weighed in yesterday on the spending battle in the House, and what he had to say was unlikely to reassure speaker Kevin McCarthy.

The former president has many devotees among House Republicans, including McCarthy himself, who hasn’t yet endorsed him but has often been obliging to his demands. But where Trump’s influence can be seen the most is among the hard-right lawmakers who are currently paralyzing business in the chamber by blocking the advancement of a defense spending bill and holding up passage of a measure to keep the government funded beyond 30 September.

In a post on his Truth Social account, Trump called on House Republicans to “defund these political prosecutions against me and other Patriots”, a reference to special counsel Jack Smith’s two criminal prosecutions of the former president for trying to overturn the 2020 election and hiding classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

But whatever passes the House must also be approved by the Democratic-led Senate, and there’s no chance they’d sign on to a measure specifically written to protect Trump.

And here’s video of an admittedly frustrated Kevin McCarthy explaining why he can’t get his lawmakers to even begin debate on legislation the House passes each year:

“This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down.”

— After House Republicans once again failed to pass a basic procedural rule to fund the Pentagon, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) hits some members of his own conference pic.twitter.com/Qt4AR71jP3

— The Recount (@therecount) September 21, 2023

In comments to Fox News, the Republican House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, sounded frustrated about the trouble he’s had advancing an annual defense spending bill:

1) McCarthy to colleague Aishah Hasnie on defense rule failing again: For medical purposes, we don’t have anybody here. Ifwe had everybody here we’d win. And we have five people. If they don’t want to even vote to allow us to bring the bills up. How does anybody complain?

— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) September 21, 2023

2) McCarthy: It’s frustrating in the sense that I don’t understand why anybody votes against bringing the idea and having the debate. And then you got all the amendments. If you don’t like the bill..

— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) September 21, 2023

3) McCarthy: This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down, that that doesn’t work. But I know it’s an obstacle, But I find it as a challenge..Time’s not up. I got time. It’ll be a bigger success..This doesn’t reward, anybody

— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) September 21, 2023

At a press conference, the Democratic House minority leader, Hakeem Jeffries, blamed a revolt by “extreme Maga Republicans” for paralyzing the chamber and threatening a government shutdown.

“We need the extreme Maga Republicans to get their act together in the civil war that’s happening on the Republican side of the aisle,” Jeffries said.

He continued:

House Republicans continue to be in the midst of a civil war. It’s a civil war that is hurting the ability of the Congress to do the business of the American people and to solve problems on behalf of everyday Americans.

And what’s happening is that House Republicans continue to be held captive by the most extreme elements of their conference, and it’s hurting the American people. And this is a serious matter. We are less than eight days away from the government shutting down.

House Republicans again fail to advance defense spending bill in ominous sign for stopping government shutdown

A vote in the Republican-led House to advance an annual defense department funding bill failed for the second time this week, after rightwing lawmakers joined with Democrats to oppose its passage:

It’s an ominous sign for the separate effort to fund the government beyond 30 September, since both rightwing Republicans and Democrats oppose a motion to prevent a shutdown proposed by House speaker Kevin McCarthy.

The rule to begin debate on the defense department funding bill is currently failing, after a Democratic lawmaker voted against it, giving the no votes the edge:

Dem GA Rep Sanford Bishop just voted nay on defense rule. Defense rule now losing 214-213

— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) September 21, 2023

That Democrats would vote against the measure is not a surprise. The problem for speaker Kevin McCarthy is that several rightwing Republicans also oppose its passage.

The vote remains open, and we’ll see if the situation changes.

The House is right now voting on the rule for the annual defense department appropriations bill, the outcome of which will be an important indicator of whether Republican speaker Kevin McCarthy has made progress in getting his party on the same page when it comes to preventing a government shutdown.

Passage of the rule will begin debate on the legislation, which is one of 12 spending bills the House much pass each year. The body is also trying to find agreement on a measure to keep the government funded past 30 September. If the vote on the rule for the defense department spending bill fails, it’ll be an ominous sign for the overall quest to prevent a federal government shutdown.

As we await the outcome of the House vote to start debate on a crucial defense funding bill, signs are emerging that speaker Kevin McCarthy’s plan to pass a measure to fund the government beyond 30 September may fail.

Politico reports that a number of rightwing Republicans remain opposed to passing a continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown. Democrats are not expected to vote for it, and the GOP has only a four-seat majority in the chamber. If no one changes their mind, the below no votes are enough to block the bill’s passage:

List of House Rs saying they oppose the new House GOP CR plan:

1) Rosendale
2) Gaetz
3) Crane
4) Biggs
5) Mills
6) Bishop
7) MTG

(Plus, Gonzales and Spartz are threatening to be No votes, though they are seen as more easily flippable) https://t.co/tMl2IJZPdL

— Olivia Beavers (@Olivia_Beavers) September 21, 2023

As the Guardian’s Julian Borger reports, Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s welcome in Washington DC is a little more cool this time, thanks to rightwing House Republicans skeptical of his requests for more military assistance:

Volodymyr Zelenskiy is likely to find his latest visit to Washington a much tougher occasion than the hero’s welcome he was given nine months ago.

Zelenskiy was given a standing ovation when he delivered an address to a joint sitting of Congress in December, but on Thursday morning there will be minimal ceremony, and the Ukrainian president faces difficult conversations behind closed doors when he meets congressional leaders who are in the midst of a bitter spending battle that could lead to a government shutdown.

Republicans have proposed a stopgap bill that does not include funding for Ukraine, an omission that the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, called “an insult to Ukraine and a gift to Putin”.

“I cannot think of a worse welcome for Zelenskiy,” Schumer said.

The Republican House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, made clear to his party, however, that he would approach Biden’s pending request for an additional $24bn in support for Ukraine with considerable scepticism.

“Is Zelenskiy elected to Congress? Is he our president? I don’t think I have to commit anything and I think I have questions for him,” McCarthy told ABC News.

“Where’s the accountability on the money we’ve already spent? What is the plan for victory? I think that’s what the American public wants to know,” McCarthy added.

Zelenskiy arrives at Capitol to press for more Ukraine aid

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, is now on Capitol Hill, where he will press lawmakers to approve more aid to help his military fight off the Russian invasion.

Here he is arriving at the Capitol, accompanied by the Democratic House minority leader, Hakeem Jeffries:

Later on, Punchbowl News saw him with the Senate’s Democratic majority leader, Chuck Schumer, and top Republican Mitch McConnell:

According to Politico, all senators are invited to hear him talk, while House members will need to be invited by Jeffries or the Republican speaker, Kevin McCarthy, who has expressed resistance towards Zelenskiy’s demands for more help.

For the latest on the war in Ukraine and Zelenskiy’s visit to Washington DC, follow our live blog:

Rupert Murdoch’s decision to step down from the helm of Fox and News Corp is an earthquake in the media world.

It could have implications for some of the biggest names in American journalism, including the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, which plays a starring role in rightwing politics and recently paid a hefty settlement to settle a lawsuit brought over its promotion of baseless fraud claims about the 2020 election.

For the latest developments on this breaking story, follow our live blog:

Here’s more about what we know about Rupert Murdoch’s decision to step down, from the Guardian’s Dominic Rushe:

Rupert Murdoch is stepping down as chair of Fox and News Corp – ending a seven-decade run as one of the world’s most transformative and controversial media moguls.

In a note to staff first reported in the Murdoch-controlled Wall Street Journal, he wrote: “For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change. But the time is right for me to take on different roles.”

Murdoch, 92, will become chairman emeritus of the two corporations, the company said in a release.

Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert’s eldest son, now seems to be his successor. In the note Murdoch called Lachlan a “passionate, principled leader” who can take the companies into the future.

“On behalf of the Fox and News Corp boards of directors, leadership teams, and all the shareholders who have benefited from his hard work, I congratulate my father on his remarkable 70-year career,” said Lachlan Murdoch, 52, in a statement.

“We thank him for his vision, his pioneering spirit, his steadfast determination, and the enduring legacy he leaves to the companies he founded and countless people he has impacted,” he said.

The Fox founder’s decision comes five months after his news network paid $787.5m to settle a defamation suit brought by Dominion Voting Systems. The voting equipment company charged that Fox had knowingly broadcast false and outlandish allegations that it was involved in a plot to steal the 2020 election.

Here’s Rupert Murdoch’s letter announcing his decision to step down as chair of Fox and News Corp, obtained by media reporter Brian Stelter:

He writes:

For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change. But the time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams and a passionate principled leader in Lachlan who will become sole Chairman of both companies.

Rupert Murdoch steps down as Fox chairman, son Lachlan to take over

Rupert Murdoch is stepping down as chairman of the board of Fox and News Corp, the companies he used to build a media empire including the Fox News network that’s a major force in rightwing American politics, Reuters reports.

His son Lachlan Murdoch will take his place at the helm of both companies, according to the Wall Street Journal, which is owned by News Corp.

House Republicans tee up defense bill vote as government shutdown looms

Good morning, US politics blog readers. The clock is ticking at the House of Representatives, where a government shutdown is now only 10 days away but it’s unclear if there are enough votes to prevent it from happening. After a meeting of the Republican majority yesterday afternoon, House speaker Kevin McCarthy emerged to say, “We’re in a good place,” and scheduled for today another vote on a defense funding bill. But there are several unknowns hanging over McCarthy’s effort to prevent a shutdown, which could be politically damaging to Republicans. The first is whether the hard-right members of his caucus will vote for the short-term funding measure necessary to stop the federal government from running out of money. The second is if whatever bill they pass will include the Ukraine aid and disaster relief funding that the Democratic-led Senate is demanding. Without their agreement, the measure won’t be enacted into law.

The big news to follow today will be a vote tentatively set for 10.30am eastern time to start debate on the defense department bill that Republican infighting had scuppered earlier this week. It’s a separate legislative issue from the government funding measure, but if it passes, it’s a positive sign for McCarthy’s effort to prevent a shutdown.

Here’s what else is going on today:

  • Joe Biden will welcome Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to the White House at 3pm eastern time in a show of support for his country’s effort to repel the Russian invasion.

  • A new poll of early voting in the state of New Hampshire shows Donald Trump (unsurprisingly) in the lead and Ron DeSantis (surprisingly) in fifth place, dashing expectations that the Florida governor is running the second-strongest campaign to the former president.

  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will brief reporters at 1pm eastern time, and be joined by national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

source: theguardian.com