McCarthy open to working with Senate Democrats on stopgap funding bill, sources say

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Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., signaled he would be open to working with the Democrat-held Senate on a stopgap funding compromise to avert a government shutdown — but only if the deal included elements to strengthen border security, sources told Fox News Digital.

McCarthy spoke to GOP lawmakers at a closed-door conference meeting Thursday in order to ‘rally the troops’ for an agreement on how to fund the government in the next fiscal year, one GOP aide said. 

Congressional leaders on both sides have acknowledged that a stopgap funding bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), is likely needed to give lawmakers more time to cobble together 12 individual appropriations bills to fund the government in the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

Two sources familiar with the meeting told Fox News Digital that McCarthy suggested he was willing to sit down with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., but only after House Republicans passed their own CR.

McCarthy ‘laid out the same strategy as debt ceiling,’ one source said, in that he ‘wants us to pass something before they pass something.’

The source added, ‘He said it would be easier to get Schumer to agree to an immigration change than [Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.].’

‘Basically [McCarthy] said we are going to look bad without our own plan and the Senate having passed something,’ the source said.

A second source, who also requested anonymity to discuss the matter freely, confirmed that House Republicans’ goal was to pass their own bill and then negotiate against the Senate.

The second source said McCarthy warned that failure to pass a House GOP CR would diminish their leverage in discussions. 

A GOP lawmaker who was at the meeting told Fox News Digital that McCarthy said he told Schumer that border security elements were a must-have in any CR.

‘I’ve had conversation with Democrat senators even as early as today who want to do something on the border,’ McCarthy told reporters on Thursday morning. ‘I think this is a place where we can get a short term stopgap if we get something on the border.’

However, it is not clear that House Republicans have the votes to pass their CR deal. Proposals floated among the House GOP include cutting spending back to 2022 levels, about $130 billion less than fiscal year 2023, for the stopgap bill’s duration. They have also included Republicans’ border security bill, H.R.2.

There are still a handful of House Republicans who are opposed to a CR on principle, arguing that it still extends the previous Democrat-held Congress’ priorities.

The Senate, by contrast, is moving forward with its own CR that would simply extend this year’s funding priorities. It also includes funding for Ukraine and for U.S. disaster relief. 

However, despite uncertainty in the House, McCarthy is still forging ahead with the CR vote on Friday or Saturday, a GOP lawmaker said while also signaling frustration at the Republican holdouts.

‘I think it’ll happen. Now whether it passes is a different story,’ the lawmaker said. ‘But at least let people be on record on whether they support a shutdown and keeping the border open.’

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