The House on Thursday has voted down a rule that would have advanced a Defense Department bill, another stumbling block for Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House Republican leadership ahead of a looming government shutdown deadline.
The final vote was 216-212.
While the specific legislation is separate from a proposal to keep the government funded beyond the present September 30 deadline, the defeat is another sign of divisions within the House Republican Conference, which has been negotiating for days to come up with a plan that can unify GOP House members. This is the third time House Republicans have bucked McCarthy and GOP leadership in a vote on a rule, a traditionally pro forma step that is taken to advance legislation.
McCarthy emerged visibly frustrated from the House floor while it was in total paralysis as House hardliners tanked another rule, slamming the group for just wanting to “burn the place down.”
“It’s frustrating in the sense that I don’t understand why anybody votes against bringing the idea and having the debate,” McCarthy told reporters.
Opposition from hardliners has plagued efforts by Republican leadership to unify behind a plan to fund the government. Days of negotiations have yielded a few apparent breakthroughs, but McCarthy’s Republican opponents have been quick to throw cold water on progress and openly defy the speaker’s calls for unity. McCarthy’s thin margin in the chamber means that in most votes he can only lose four members without any support from Democrats – and absences can raise and lower the majority threshold.
This story has been updated with additional developments.