Democrats angered at McCarthy vowing to spend less than the negotiated spending cap

 June 18, 2023

Earlier this month, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) power was tested in a big way when a small group of Freedom Caucus conservatives demonstrated that they're willing to keep him in check. 

However, the two sides have since come together to work on future appropriations bills, vowing to spend much less than the deal previously struck with the White House.

According to the Associated Press, Democratic members of the House are already in full freak-out mode, with some warning that the way Republicans are going about it will end up a "prelude" to future government shutdowns.

House Republicans were delighted with the announcement that spending wouldn't be as high as previously thought.

Is it a cap?

The speaker defended the idea of spending less, insisting that the deal he struck with President Joe Biden last month amounted to a "cap" on spending, emphasizing that it doesn't have to meet the cap.

"You can always do less," McCarthy said.

That sentiment was echoed by GOP Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, who leads the House Appropriations Committee. She explained that the deal with the White House "set a top-line spending cap -– a ceiling, not a floor."

The AP noted:

But it drew immediate pushback from Democrats who say an attempt to circumvent the debt ceiling agreement’s top-line numbers effectively guarantees a standoff with the Senate and White House and possibly even a damaging government stoppage when funding expires this fall.

"It is a prelude to a shutdown — what they are engineering," said Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the committee's ranking Democrat.

Democrats panic

Several top Democrats expressed anger and frustration at the news, countering that "caps are not ceilings."

"You knew that wasn’t a ceiling," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). "Traditionally, that’s where we are starting. Caps are not ceilings in our world. They are a starting point and then we negotiate from those numbers we have agreed to. That’s how it has always been."

"What kind of deal is that? What kind of respect for yourselves is that?" Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said.

Only time will tell if the country ends up in another shutdown showdown between the two sides. With McCarthy's power being kept in close check by some conservative House members, there's no way he'll be able to break that without serious consequences in the future.

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