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Crystal clear: Forecast for possible government shutdown is murky

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I have a parliamentary crystal ball for how September may go on Capitol Hill.

That doesn’t mean I have many answers.

Like most crystal balls, they are limited in their accuracy. They won’t give you the full story. But they will absolutely nail some aspects.

No. The crystal ball cannot definitively predict whether the government will shut down Oct. 1, the start of the federal fiscal year. In fact, information from the crystal ball surrounding that very question is especially cloudy.


Kevin McCarthy

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is under pressure from conservatives not to pass a “clean” continuing resolution. (Getty Images)

Impeachment of President Biden? Or Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas? Or Attorney General Merrick Garland?

Just as hazy.

But the crystal ball does forecast the following:

The Senate will advance a few individual appropriations bills in the coming weeks. And House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will try to advance a fig leaf, interim spending package that appeases the right. The House Freedom Caucus and other conservative members will demand various provisions that either trim spending, address the border or wrestle with potential impeachment. 

McCarthy’s bill won’t actually be what Congress settles on to fund the government. In fact, one can’t even technically call it a “Continuing Resolution” or “CR” if it cuts funding or addresses ancillary issues important to Republicans. By its nature, a CR sustains funding at present levels so the government doesn’t shutter. But McCarthy will have made his point.

However, what’s murky in the crystal ball is whether McCarthy and House Republicans can later digest a CR from the Senate that doesn’t address any of their priorities just to keep the government funded.

However, the crystal ball is crystal clear about one thing: If the House doesn’t eventually swallow a bipartisan CR from the Senate, there will be a government shutdown.

That’s as definitive as anything we’ve drawn from the crystal ball.

Chuck Schumer

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is surrounded by media after a closed-door briefing on Iran at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., May 21, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

So, here are some of the machinations surrounding a potential government shutdown and possible funding measures over the next four weeks.

The Senate is back from its summer recess a full week ahead of the House. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., notes that the Senate cleared 12 appropriations bills in committee before the recess. So, he’ll deposit three of those on the floor soon.

“All 12 appropriations … have been reported out of the committee with bipartisan support. Some of them, many of them, were with unanimous, bipartisan support,” said Schumer. “Now, that doesn’t mean everyone agreed on everything. It sometimes means something more important. It means that disagreements haven’t paralyzed the process.”


Schumer scored backup from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

“Congress needs to address our nation’s most pressing needs with timely appropriations. And we need to keep the lights on come Oct. 1,” McConnell said.

Before the recess, the full House OK’d only one of its 12 spending measures. So, this is a chance for the Senate to get ahead of the House and inoculate it from criticism it hasn’t passed any appropriations bills.

But Schumer understands the stark reality. No matter what, the solution to averting a government shutdown is for the House and Senate to pass some sort of interim spending bill that keeps the federal lights on for a few weeks, if not a couple months. And the only tangible recipe to make that work? A Band-Aid bill can only pass with a coalition of Democrats and Republicans.

McCarthy doesn’t need a crystal ball to understand that a bipartisan, temporary bill is the route too. He’s indicated to House Republicans a stopgap bill is necessary right away, asserting that the GOP will fight for deep spending cuts with the “real” bills later.

But McCarthy hasn’t addressed something else that is clear in the crystal ball. It remains unsaid because it’s politically radioactive: A clean CR likely requires a substantial chunk of Democratic votes in the House. In fact, it may score far more Democratic votes than GOP votes.

“We all agreed a CR is the best way to go,” Schumer said of a meeting he had with McCarthy about government funding. “He’s going to have a rough time implementing it.”

That’s why a clean CR with substantial Democratic support is politically the most malignant bill to McCarthy.

McConnell at a news conference

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves a news conference following the weekly Republican caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol Sept. 28, 2022. (Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

House conservatives will bray if McCarthy defaults to that position – even if he goes through the proper motions to appeal to the right on impeachment, spending cuts or border policy. However, McCarthy likely needs to embrace some of these appeals by the right if he wants to stay in good graces with the House Freedom Caucus.

But the second McCarthy dials back from those positions …

If he dials back from those positions …

That’s why the crystal ball can’t predict if there might be a government shutdown.

This boils down to the math.

The current breakdown in the House features 222 Republicans to 212 Democrats with one vacancy. In other words, Republicans can only lose four votes from their side and still pass a bill without Democratic assistance. More Democrats voted for the debt ceiling pact with President Biden in the spring than Republicans. And conservatives haven’t let McCarthy forget it.

But it gets worse for the GOP.

Kevin McCarthy and Tom Emmer

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., left, and Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., after a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center July 13, 2022.  (CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images)

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., could miss some time for his cancer treatments. And Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah., resigns effective Sept. 15. So, that could mean Republicans are effectively operating with only 220 members. That drops the GOP margin to three votes.

The biggest roadblock for putting any piece of legislation on the House floor is what’s known as the “rule.” The House Rules Committee is the gateway for most bills to get to the floor. The Rules Committee and the entire House must first adopt a “rule” before considering legislation. The rule determines the parameters for debate on a given bill. But if the Rules Committee or entire House fails to approve a rule, the bill can’t come up for debate.

This could be nettlesome for McCarthy with Ralph Norman, R-S.C., Chip Roy, R-Texas, and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., serving on the Rules Committee.

That said, there is a way to skate around the Rules Committee on a CR that simply renews all old funding on a temporary basis.

The House can bypass the Rules Committee by putting a “privileged” Continuing Resolution on the floor after Sept. 15. “Privileged” means the resolution is written in a manner that whisks it to the front of the legislative line. 

Granted, such a “privileged” CR is subject to multiple points of order on the floor. That could be messy enough. But such an option to skip a step does exist in the House quiver.

Will that scenario unfold?

The crystal ball has not even considered the “privileged” CR option because it is obscure.

So, what’s going to happen? I have no idea. And frankly, neither does the crystal ball.

This poses a salient question: If the crystal ball can’t foretell what’s going to happen in Congress, what good is it?


I asked the crystal ball about its future in congressional soothsaying.

The response? Foggy at best.



New York Gov Hochul wants to ‘limit’ who crosses border, says it’s ‘too open right now’

Democrat New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Sunday called on Congress to “limit” who crosses the border, saying it’s “too open right now.”

Ironically repeating what congressional Republicans have long demanded from the Biden administration, Hochul made the plea during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

CBS host Margaret Brennan noted there were no border provisions in the federal spending deal struck by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy this weekend to avoid a government shutdown, asking Hochul what she would want Congress to get done in the next 45 days.

“Well, shame on Speaker McCarthy and the Republicans in Congress, including the nine from New York State, who are complaining like crazy about the migrants but refuse to work with President Biden and come up with a sensible border strategy. It can be done. This can be done in a bipartisan way. Comprehensive immigration reform,” Hochul began before Brennan interjected by asking what she was specifically wanting from Congress to address the migrant crisis in her state.


Kathy Hochul press conference

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul demands “comprehensive immigration reform.” (Lev Radin / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images / File)

“Well, we want them to have a limit on who can come across the border. It is too open right now,” Hochul said. “People coming from all over the world are finding their way through simply saying they need asylum. And the majority of them seem to be ending up in the streets of New York. And that is a real problem for New York City, 125,000 newly arrived individuals. And we are being taxed.”

“We are always so proud of the fact that New York has the Statue of Liberty in our harbor. We are one of the most diverse places on Earth because of our welcoming nature, and it’s in our DNA to welcome immigrants. But there has to be some limits in place. And Congress has to put more controls at the border and not in this budget threat, shutdown threat, talk about eliminating positions for Border Patrol when we actually need to double or quadruple those numbers. So, get back to work and do your jobs,” the governor added.

National Guard troops address migrant crisis

A migrant shows his documents to Army servicemen at the entrance to the Roosevelt Hotel, converted into a city-run shelter for newly arrived migrant families, in New York City on Sept. 27, 2023. (Selcuk Acar / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)


Several critics online unleashed on Hochul for apparently changing her tune since espousing New York as a sanctuary state and encouraging people to come in 2021.

More than 125,000 migrants have since arrived in New York City since last year, and Hochul recently secured a deal with the Biden administration to expedite work authorizations and delayed deportations for Venezuelans seeking asylum. Hochul activated an additional 150 National Guard members last week to address the migrant crisis and help with case management to get asylum seekers work permit. The move increased the total number of National Guard troops dedicated to the mission to 2,200.

NYC migrant lines

Migrants line up in front of the Roosevelt Hotel, converted into a city-run shelter for newly arrived migrant families, in New York City, on Sept. 27, 2023. (Selcuk Acar / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)


Yet New York City Mayor Eric Adams, whose relationship has soured with fellow Democrat Biden by repeatedly demanding more federal assistance on the migrant crisis over the past several months, has said the more new waves of arriving migrants are from African nations, China and even Russia, indicating a potential growing security risk compared to the initial influxes from Latin America. Adams is pushing a controversial “decompression strategy” to resettle migrants outside the city.

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Gaetz slammed for bailing out Dems in budget battle, giving them potential leverage in ousting speaker

A bid by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has earned scorn from some fellow Republicans, who fear the Florida lawmaker is handing leverage to Democrats in the continuing battle over the budget.

“The only way he can be successful is if he has 200 plus Democrats,” Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., said during an appearance on “Sunday Morning Futures” with host Maria Bartiromo. “Basically, Gaetz is going to work with Nancy Pelosi, Hakeem Jeffries, and the rest of the Democrats in order to remove the Republican speaker… If you remove a Republican speaker, that then puts the Democrats in power, these investigations will be done and stalled. That is unacceptable of Matt Gaetz.”

Smith’s comments come after the House passed a continuing resolution Saturday that will fund the government at current levels through mid-November, angering some Republicans who believe the measure is a violation of GOP promises to pass 12 individual spending bills that prioritize conservative polices.


Gaetz and AOC split image

Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images | Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

One such Republican was Gaetz, who opposed the resolution and threatened to trigger a House-wide vote on whether to remove McCarthy from the speakership.

Under the terms of a deal McCarthy struck with conservatives during the vote that elevated him to speaker, any lawmaker is allowed to trigger a vote, known as a motion to vacate, and attempt to remove him from the speakership.

“The one thing everyone seems to have in common is no one trusts Kevin McCarthy,” Gaetz told reporters Saturday. “I’ve said that whether or not Kevin McCarthy faces a motion to vacate is entirely within his control, because all he had to do was comply with the agreement that he made with us in January.”

Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., called Gaetz’s comment on removing McCarthy a “diatribe of delusional thinking” during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, noting that the government is currently divided and any bill the House hopes to pass will have to gain support from both the Senate and President Biden.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


“When you’re trying to break the system, when you’re trying to reform it, it takes time,” Lawler said. “The only responsible thing to do was to keep the government open and funded while we complete our work.”

While Lawler acknowledged that he shares the Florida lawmaker’s concerns about current spending levels, he argued that putting a motion to vacate on the House floor would “delay the ability to complete” GOP efforts to pass a more conservative budget “over the next 45 days.”

Sen. MarkWayne Mullin, R-Okla., tore into Gaetz during a Sunday interview on “FOX & Friends Weekend,” saying the only thing he cares about is “self-promotion.”

“Well, Matt Gaetz is not a principle guy. He’s not a policy guy. He’s about self-promotion. It’s all about Matt Gaetz. And he’s accusing Speaker McCarthy of working with the Democrats, which the irony of this is the only way he can possibly remove Speaker McCarthy is that he has to work with the Democrats,” Mullin said. “And Speaker McCarthy will have 200 votes all day long and probably more from the Republicans. So that means the most he’s going to get is 20. So he’s going to have to work with 198 Democrats to remove the House Republican speaker.”

“Matt Gaetz is all about himself,” Mullin continued. “Remember, none of the networks would give him the time of the day after he was accused of sleeping with the underage girl and now all of a sudden he’s found his fame because he opposes Speaker McCarthy and he’s going to ride this horse as long as he can.”

Rep. Gaetz has repeatedly denied this allegation and the Justice Department “confirmed to Congressman Gaetz’s attorneys that their investigation has concluded and that he will not be charged with any crimes,” according to a statement previously given to Fox News Digital.

Rep Gaetz and Sen Mullin

Sen. MarkWayne Mullin, right, blasted Rep. Gaetz during a Sunday morning interview, saying the only thing he cares about is “self-promotion.” (Tom Williams/Al Drago)

Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to ask whether Gaetz is “secretly an agent for the Democratic Party.” 

“No one else is doing as much to undermine, weaken and cripple the House GOP,” he added.

Rep. Greg Landsman, D-Ohio came to the defense of the center right Republicans arguing that Gaetz was only attempting to make himself “the center of attention.”

“Every time we all work together, he loses his mind. He doesn’t want the center left and center right to work together because he has to be the center of attention,” Landsman said in a statement posted to X. “When we do, he creates chaos to grab attention back. Matt Gaetz has no interest in governing. This is all about TV appearances for him. If he says it’s for any other reason, he’s lying. Just let us govern, which is what most of us came here to do.”


Some Democrats struck a celebratory tone after the continuing resolution cleared the House Saturday, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., taking to X to boast the party had “stripped” GOP efforts to make cuts to Social Security.

“We just won a clean 45 day gov extension, stripped GOP’s earlier 30% cuts to Social Security admin etc, staved off last minute anti-immigrant hijinks, and averted shutdown (for now),” Ocasio-Cortez said. “People will get paychecks and MTG (Marjorie Taylor Greene) threw a tantrum on the way out. Win-win.”


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Tom Williams/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, McCarthy downplayed fears while speaking to reporters Saturday.

“I never fear of that. But if I lose my job over looking out for the American public, for taking a stand for our troops and our border agents, then I’m not quite sure what people want. Because this allows us the time to get the job done,” McCarthy said. “If somebody wants to remove me from putting Americans first, then so be it.”

During an interview on ‘Face the Nation” Sunday, McCarthy said he will “survive” and Gaetz is “more interested in securing TV interviews.”

“Let’s get over with it. Let’s start governing. If he’s upset because he tried to push us into a shutdown and I made sure government didn’t shut down, then let’s have that talk,” McCarthy said.


For his part, Gaetz argued in comments to reporters Saturday that he was not focused on removing McCarthy, instead saying he will continue efforts to pass conservative budget bills.

“Right now, my focus is not on the motion to vacate. My focus is on averting a shutdown by passing these bills,” Gaetz said. “And if we do have a shutdown, which may be the case, I certainly want it to be as short and painless as possible.”

The offices of Gaetz and McCarthy did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.

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Rep. Bowman shocks media, conservatives with ‘garbage’ statement after pulling fire alarm

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., stunned conservatives and members of the media on Sunday after releasing multiple statements about pulling the fire alarm in a congressional office building. 

Bowman pulled the alarm on Saturday while lawmakers were voting on a bill to avoid a government shutdown. Bowman said in a statement that he was rushing to cast his vote on the bill. 

Bowman’s chief of staff, Sarah Iddrissu, said that Bowman “didn’t realize” he would trigger an alarm. 

“Congressman Bowman did not realize he would trigger a building alarm as he was rushing to make an urgent vote,” Iddrissu wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The Congressman regrets any confusion.”

Rep. Jamaal Bowman

U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman speaks at Grammys On The Hill: Advocacy Day on April 27, 2023, in Washington, D.C.  ((Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for The Recording Academy))


Bowman posted another statement to X Saturday evening and again said he believed it would have opened the door.

“I want to personally clear up confusion surrounding today’s events. Today as I was rushing to make a vote, I came to a door that is usually open for votes, but today would not be open. I am embarrassed to admit that I activated the fire alarm, mistakenly thinking it would open the door,” Bowman said, apologizing for any confusion. 

He said that he did not intend to delay the vote, insisting it was the exact opposite. 

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., said the statement put out by Bowman’s chief of staff was “complete garbage.”

“He did not realize deliberately pulling a fire alarm would … trigger a fire alarm. This statement is complete garbage,” he wrote.

Another Republican member of congress said the statement was “proof” of how far Democrats were willing to go in order to force a shutdown, while others doubted the excuse Bowman gave. 


Real Clear Politics’ Mark Hemingway said the statement was a “blatant lie” and deserved to be treated as such.

Other commentators described it as the “worst statement ever” and questioned how Bowman could claim to have set the alarm off by “mistake.”

Florida GOP chair Christian Ziegler, the chair of Florida’s GOP, noted Bowman was a school principal and argued that his staff was lying. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., also attempted to explain the incident on Sunday during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, who said Bowman’s explanation made no sense. 

Bowman pulling fire alarm

Bowman appeared to pull the alarm on Saturday as Republicans began voting on the stopgap bill to avert a government shutdown. (U.S. Capitol Police)


“I think there’s something to be said that the government’s about to shut down, there’s a vote clock that’s going down, the exits that are normally open in that building were suddenly closed…” Ocasio-Cortez began to explain.

Tapper interjected and asked, “So he pulled the fire alarm?”

Ocasio-Cortez went on to suggest it was just a misunderstanding and said Bowman was cooperating with Capitol police. 


Fox News’ Stephen Sorace contributed to this report.

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