President Joe Biden admonished Republicans in a White House address on Sunday, a day after their caucus in the House brushed up against a deadline to fund the government and was unable to pass a measure to avert a shutdown without Democratic aid.
The US Congress passed legislation on Saturday extending funding for the government by 45 days — at the current level — while also providing some further money for disaster relief funding. It passed the Senate after House GOP leaders were forced to cut a deal with Democrats to get it out of the lower chamber, as a majority of Republicans voted against their leader’s legislation.
It was an awkward moment for Republicans and one that underscored how little control Speaker Kevin McCarthy has over his own caucus.
On Sunday, Joe Biden stuck the knife in deeper. As he celebrated the legislation having reached his desk the previous evening, he dressed down Republicans in both chamber for the constant uncertainty and brinkmanship that has come to define their party whenever it holds the reins of power.
“The truth is, we shouldn’t have been here in the first place,” the president said. “It is time to end governing by crisis, and keep your word when you give it.”
His latter remark referred to Mr McCarthy blowing up his own credibility with Democrats in the White House and Congress by walking away from a deal that he had already made earlier this year regarding the budget. Now, he faces those exact same criticisms from a group of far-right Republicans in his own caucus.
Mr Biden added: “I’m sick and tired of the brinksmanship. And so are the American people.”
That fact is belied by polling, which shows that a wider share of voters by far blame congressional Republicans over either Joe Biden or congressional Democrats for the constant threat of shutdowns.
It also hones in on a simple truth: that Republicans in the so-called “holdout” group were unable to point to anything they won or achieved by refusing to support a temporary measure to keep the government open. And Kevin McCarthy was unable to convince even so-called “moderates” in his party to vote for the clean funding extension.
“What we have seen is that no spending bills will happen without Democratic support,” Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries told reporters on Saturday.
GOP lawmakers who make up that faction are now vowing to remove Mr McCarthy from the speaker’s chair. Democrats will likely face the choice of watching him go down in flames, or cutting a deal with him to save his seat in exchange for power-sharing measures.
Mr McCarthy remained defiant on Sunday, goading his rivals in the GOP: “Bring it on.”