GOP tempers flare as McCarthy pans McConnell’s spending strategy

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is taking public shots at Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s (Ky.) plan to pass an omnibus spending package before Christmas, fueling tensions between Senate and House GOP leaders.  

McConnell’s Senate allies say that McCarthy’s criticisms are “not helpful” to their efforts to pass a year-end spending package and avoid a government shutdown.  

And they worry this could be a preview of a potentially “challenging” working relationship between McConnell and McCarthy in the next Congress. 

McCarthy told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday evening that he hopes Senate Republicans won’t vote for the omnibus spending bill, arguing that they could save almost $100 billion in taxpayer money by voting instead for a stopgap measure that would freeze federal funding levels until next year when Republicans will take control of the House. 

“They’re trying to jam us right before Christmas. Why would you ever move forward when there’s a change in power in 21 days where Republicans would have a stronger hand?” McCarthy said. “We wouldn’t be talking about adding more money. We’d talk about decreasing.”

McCarthy doubled down on his tough talk during a press conference Wednesday.

He also vowed to “sit down” with his colleagues next year and “take how much money we’re able to afford and we’d proportion it out and let all the members have that debate” on how to spend it. 

But Senate Republicans predict that McCarthy — or anyone else elected Speaker in 2023 — will have a very tough time passing spending bills and will have to depend on House Democratic votes since there’s a group of House conservatives unlikely to vote for any appropriations legislation.  

McCarthy himself has yet to nail down the majority of House votes he needs to become Speaker amid opposition from a small group of hard-line conservatives.

By Alexander Bolton

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