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Ninety Republicans Vote to Freeze US Military Pay

At Valley Forge, George Washington famously refused to move from his frozen tent into a cabin until all his men had been housed. That example of patriotism and leadership stands in stark contrast to the action of nearly half of House Republicans who voted to block pay for our military - even as Congress kept getting paychecks and vacation.

Congress' Constitutional Responsibility to Fund the Government

Congress’ Constitutional responsibility is to set budgets and pass bills to fund our government.

But over ninety House Republicans (backed by Donald Trump) voted to shut down the government in an effort to end support for Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion and to embarrass Republican House Speaker McCarthy.

Unlike past government shutdowns, there was bipartisan support this year from the majority of Senators and Congresspeople to do their duty. In the end, Democrats in the House provided Republican Speaker McCarthy the majority of the votes he needed to pass a bill that would keep the government running.

The Stakes: Our Military Must Work Without Pay or Benefits

Because our military performs a necessary function of protecting our nation, they are required to report for duty whether they are paid or not.

If Donald Trump and House Republicans had gotten their way and shut down the federal government, our military would have gone unpaid, supplemental food programs that 1-in-4 active duty families depend on would have ended, and many military childcare facilities would have closed.

This failure of Congress would have created a perfect storm where military parents already living paycheck to paycheck would have lost their pay and care for their children, but the parents would have still be required to report for duty.

Border patrol agents, TSA personnel, members of our intelligence community, and civil servants providing essential services to the American people that require them to work without pay during government shutdowns would have all faced similar fates.

McCarthy Turns To Democrats to Keep Government Running

In a surprise to many, McCarthy ultimately turned to Democrats in the House, asking them take the lead in voting to ensure that America's Armed Forces continued to be paid and base childcare facilities remained open. In the end, more House Democrats voted to keep the government running than House Republicans.

The House bill was quickly approved by a large bipartisan majority in the Senate and signed by President Biden hours before the shutdown deadline.

In the end, 90 House Republicans and 9 of the 48 Republican Senators voted to stop paying our military. Every Senate Democrat and all but one House Democrat voted to keep the government running.

What Comes Next

The funding bill President Biden just signed ensures the federal government remains open through November. It did not include promised funding to ensure Ukraine can continue to successfully defend itself against the Russian invasion.

Leaders in both the House and Senate have publicly promised a vote on that funding will come shortly to ensure the squabbling in the House does not send the wrong message to Putin (and China) that the US lacks the will to defend its allies.

The Republicans who voted against government funding (led by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz) also promised to work to remove McCarthy as Speaker. In another unusual situation, they are now the ones turning to Democrats. McCarthy's only chance to remain Speaker was fpr Democrats vote to keep him there. So Rep. Matt Gaetz began courting Democrats this passed week as he prepared the "motion to vacate" that would remove McCarthy from Speaker if the majority of the Members of the House vote against him.

On October 3, 2023, the House voted to remove McCarthy as Speaker.

Motion to Vacate - Bipartisan Path Forward?

Normally, the overwhelming bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate in favor of keeping the government running would have easily passed a spending bill. But the slim Republican majority in the House, and the rules Speaker McCarthy was forced to accept to finally win his spot, created a unique problem.

The House Speaker decides what can be voted on in the House and makes committee assignments. But under new rules McCarthy accepted this year, he also agreed to allow a vote to be removed from the Speaker position at any time if he cannot secure majority support in the House. This had never happened in the history of the United States before the historic (216 - 210) vote that removed McCarthy from Speaker (and third in the line of succession to be President) on October 3, 2023.

Without a Speaker, the House of Representatives cannot conduct any business. Republicans hold a slim majority in the House and theoretically could chose a new Speaker on their own. But the rift between the MAGA wing and the rest of the Republican Caucus makes that seem unlikely.

The most likely scenario may be a Speaker that (for one of the first times in the history of Congress) is selected with a large number of votes by Members of both parties.



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Motion to Vacate
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