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Will there be a government shutdown? Texas lawmakers see odds growing as deadline looms

Hard-line conservatives helped defeat Friday’s last-ditch Republican stopgap measure.

Kevin McCarthy
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., addresses reporters about efforts to pass appropriations bills and avert a looming government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Sept. 29, 2023.(Mariam Zuhaib / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

By Joseph Morton

WASHINGTON — Texas members of Congress expressed bipartisan pessimism about avoiding a government shutdown this weekend as they left the House floor Friday afternoon.

“Unfortunately, I think it’s almost guaranteed,” said Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas.

A last-ditch effort by Republican leadership had just gone down in flames on a 198-232 vote.

“That’s not a good sign,” Rep. Roger Williams, R-Willow Park, said after the vote. “There’s a lot of ground to make up.”


The defeated stopgap proposal to keep the government open beyond Saturday night included significant spending cuts and aggressive border security policy changes.

House Democrats were united in opposing the measure. It’s unlikely it could pass the Senate and President Joe Biden said he would veto it.

Still, it would have provided a starting point for negotiations between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Democrats.

But 21 Republicans rejected the proposal and joined Democrats in sinking it.

Four Texans were among the GOP hard-liners torpedoing it: Reps. Michael Cloud of Victoria, Wesley Hunt of Houston, Keith Self of McKinney and Troy Nehls of Richmond.


Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, did not vote.

In a statement, Cloud called on House leadership to step up the pace of passing individual spending bills with significant cuts. He accused those leaders of leveraging the shutdown to instead push a stopgap measure, known as a continuing resolution.

“While such political games may have been successful in the past, it will not work this time,” Cloud said. “We have to keep our word. It is time to do what we said we would do.”

Self called Friday’s bill “business as usual” in explaining his opposition.

Internal GOP frustration with the holdouts has threatened to boil over this week.


Rep. Monica De La Cruz, R-McAllen, represents a South Texas swing district and has pushed to keep Border Patrol agents paid during a shutdown. She praised Friday’s bill and expressed frustration it failed.

“Unfortunately, some DC Republicans joined Democrats today and voted against funding the government and our border security. Let’s be clear, these political theatrics will do nothing to rein in excessive spending, it will only hurt South Texans, Border Patrol and Customs agents, and families across America,” De La Cruz wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Most of us come to Washington to work hard; too many come here for other reasons. Leadership is not about cable news hits; it’s about setting a vision and delivering for the people we represent.”

Williams also expressed a lack of understanding as to why any Republican would vote against the proposal, saying it would cut spending, boost border security and protect the military.

“I’m as conservative as it gets,” Williams said, defending his support for the measure. “You check my record out.”

Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said on Thursday that McCarthy appears to be a remarkably weak speaker who has ceded much of his power to far-right House members.


“It looks like the Republicans don’t have their act together,” Veasey said. “It looks like the most reckless, radical Republicans in their caucus are really calling the shots.”

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Austin, a leading voice among the deeply conservative House Freedom Caucus, backed Friday’s proposal. He has said Republicans should put Senate Democrats on the spot by sending them the stopgap proposal keeping the government open while cutting spending and boosting border security.

He and many other Republicans have argued a shutdown should be blamed on Democrats for their opposition to GOP border policies. But it’s difficult to make that argument when House Republicans can’t get united behind their own proposal.

Roy wrote on X after the vote that a shutdown seems inevitable.

The Senate is expected to soon send the House its bipartisan version of a continuing resolution. That bill lacks the Republicans’ deep spending cuts and would direct additional billions to Ukraine aid and disaster assistance.

“The question is will the speaker let us vote on it,” Allred said.

Some of the hard-right dissenters have talked openly about the possibility of ousting McCarthy if he goes to Democrats for help in keeping the government open.

Democrats could team with moderate Republicans and use various parliamentary maneuvers in a bid to circumvent McCarthy, but those take time and the clock is ticking.

Allred said a shutdown brings many negative effects, including missing paychecks for members of the military and civilian federal employees.

“It’s going to hurt our economy. It’s going to hurt real people,” Allred said. “And the most vulnerable people are the ones who will be hurt the worst.”

Allred and many other members have asked for their salaries to be withheld during a shutdown, although their monthly pay schedule means they won’t miss a check until the end of October.

This story, originally published in The Dallas Morning News, is reprinted as part of a collaborative partnership between The Dallas Morning News and Texas Metro News. The partnership seeks to boost coverage of Dallas’ communities of color, particularly in southern Dallas.

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