Threats from Georgia’s Greene, Clyde increase chances of federal shutdown

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

WASHINGTON — U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Andrew Clyde, two hard-right Republicans from Georgia, have said they will use the upcoming Sept. 30 government funding deadline as leverage to pass priorities such as defunding prosecutions of former President Donald Trump.

Greene also took it a step further by saying she is willing to shut down the federal government if her demands aren’t met. She also wants to impeach President Joe Biden and line out federal funding for COVID-19 vaccines and the war in Ukraine.

“I’ve already decided I will not vote to fund the government unless we have passed an impeachment inquiry on Joe Biden,” she told constituents during a town hall in Floyd County on Thursday night. “I will not fund the government because I will not fund the weaponized part of the government.”

Clyde said he will submit language barring money from going to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and federal special counsel Jack Smith. Those three prosecutors have all brought criminal charges against Trump.

“The American people are sick and tired of all talk and no action,“ Clyde told the Fox Business Network on Tuesday. “So I’m on the Appropriations Committee, I’m in a position to act upon this.”

Clyde’s and Greene’s threats have to be taken seriously by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California, who has a thin five-vote majority.

When the House reconvenes on Sept. 12, members will have fewer than three weeks to pass a stopgap funding resolution that can also gain enough support to pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate. The more GOP votes McCarthy loses, the more Democratic support he will need. But the more he negotiates across the aisle, the more Republican votes he risks losing.

Other hard-right members have also expressed an openness to shuttering government agencies, including U.S. Rep. Bob Good of Virginia. Texas Rep. U.S. Chip Roy said he is a “violent no” on temporary government funding unless provisions are added to address the flood of unauthorized immigrants at the southern border, Politico reported.

Greene, who is a McCarthy ally, has said she is a “no” on funding the government unless all her demands are met. Her remarks Thursday night about shutting down the government were met with enthusiastic applause from constituents.

Clyde has not said what he will do if his amendments fail, but he is among a group of hard-liners who have made McCarthy’s life difficult at times. First, they temporarily blocked his ascension to speaker. Later, they criticized his debt-limit negotiations with President Joe Biden, which led to a pause on House floor votes.

The White House issued a statement Thursday blasting Greene’s remarks and painting them as harmful to Americans. Spokesperson Andrew Bates also called on Republicans to resist Greene’s calls for shutdown, saying “it would be a shame for them to break their word and fail the country” if they are unable to stick to the funding levels that were agreed to as part of the debt-limit deal.

“The last thing the American people deserve is for extreme House members to trigger a government shutdown that hurts our economy, undermines our disaster preparedness, and forces our troops to work without guaranteed pay,” Bates said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, sent colleagues a letter Friday previewing how he will approach these spending talks when his members return Tuesday. Schumer said he will focus on bipartisanship and “preventing House Republican extremists from forcing a government shutdown.”

“We cannot afford the brinkmanship or hostage-taking we saw from House Republicans earlier this year when they pushed our country to the brink of default to appease the most extreme members of their party,” Schumer wrote in a letter to members.

Even without the threats from Greene and Clyde, the upcoming showdown on federal spending was already fraught. In addition to the shutdown deadline at the end of the month, lawmakers also must decide how to deal with requests from the White House for emergency funding.

The Biden administration wants $24 billion in additional funding to support Ukraine in fighting off the invasion from Russia. The White House also recently increased its request for disaster relief funds by $4 billion, for a total of $16 billion, after the wildfires in Maui and Hurricane Idalia.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter expressed confidence Friday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would get the money it needs.

“We’re going to do our job, and we’re going to make sure that the funds are available to help people recover,” the Pooler Republican said on C-SPAN.

Many veteran Republicans, even those who complain about federal spending, are hesitant to support shutting down the government because voters tend to hold them most responsible in polling about who gets the blame.

Notably, the most recent shutdown in 2019, after Democrats refused to support funding for Trump’s border wall, precedes the tenure of Greene and Clyde. Voters at the time blamed Trump and congressional Republicans more than Democrats for sending federal workers home a total of 35 days, the longest shutdown in history.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell this week described the current funding talks as a “pretty big mess,” according to The Hill. He blamed House Republicans for pushing for spending cuts beyond what was negotiated earlier in the year, but he expressed optimism a deal will be reached.

“I think we’ll end up with a short-term congressional resolution, probably into December, as we struggle to figure out exactly what the government’s spending levels are going to be next year,” McConnell said.