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Happy Friday morning.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. House conservatives are in an uproar over the possibility of a short-term stopgap funding bill after their leadership floated the idea to members on a conference call this week.
Since Speaker Kevin McCarthy privately told members on Monday that he expected Congress would need to pass a continuing resolution to fund federal agencies past the Sept. 30 deadline, several House Republicans have voiced their opposition to it absent some clear conservative policy victories.
It’s created yet another difficult situation for McCarthy, who may be forced by conservatives to attach poison-pill riders to the CR that could never pass in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, for his part, is already laying the groundwork to blame House Republicans if there’s a shutdown at the end of September.
“If the House decides to go in a partisan direction, it will lead to a Republican-caused shutdown,” Schumer told us in a statement.
Schumer said this week that he and McCarthy have already agreed that a CR would be necessary at the end of September. This isn’t quite a surprise given the impossibility of getting all 12 appropriations bills signed into law by Sept. 30.
McCarthy didn’t elaborate on the length of a short-term CR he would try to pass, but some conservative hardliners have made it clear they won’t vote for any funding measure that doesn’t include major spending cuts or policy wins.
And even if they do get wins, a number of rank-and-file House Republicans have said they weren’t interested in supporting a CR for more than a very short period of time.
“Under no circumstances will I support a ‘continuing resolution’ to fund the government at the bloated, corrupt 2023 levels… and in particular, that funds DHS and DOJ without massive, immediate, actionable reforms,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) told us in a statement. “I might — might — support a short-term series of 24-hour ‘CRs’ to create maximum pain for Congress to do its damned job.”
Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) said he wanted to see conservative policy victories in addition to reduced spending levels if the House pursues a continuing resolution.
“A continuing resolution into December with no spending cuts and no policy wins is nothing more than business as usual in Washington,” Good added. “We must demonstrate to the American people we are doing everything we can to fight back against the failing policies from the Biden Administration.”
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) took a clear shot at GOP leadership after McCarthy suggested a short-term fix.
“Bottom line, the commitment was to get back to regular order, pass the 12 appropriations bills by September 30th and rein in spending,” Norman said. “Nothing has been accomplished or fought for by our leadership unfortunately.”
It’s not just the typical House Freedom Caucus-types who are speaking out against a CR, though.
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) tweeted that he’d oppose “any Continuing Resolution that only kicks the can down the road.”
Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) said a CR wouldn’t get his vote unless Congress defunds the Justice Department, which “has very rapidly become the enemy of the American people.”
Let’s be real here. The House still has 11 appropriations bills to pass next month with only 12 legislative days left until the end of the fiscal year. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved all 12 funding bills with big bipartisan majorities, but there’s simply not enough time in September to pass all of them on the floor.
So a CR will be the only solution to avoid a government shutdown.
That said, we should also keep in mind that some conservatives have openly said a government shutdown doesn’t bother them if that’s what it takes to achieve their fiscal goals.
— Mica Soellner and Andrew Desiderio
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— Max Cohen
WASHINGTON X THE WORLD
Dick Durbin’s legacy play: Lithuania
VILNIUS, Lithuania — Sen. Dick Durbin’s four decades in Congress have been defined by historic flashpoints that would make an indelible impression on any elected official — from the fall of the Soviet Union to the Sept. 11 terror attacks, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
But for Durbin, 78, perhaps the most lasting impressions came thanks to his ancestral homeland, Lithuania, which today is the only nation so directly and equally impacted by the two biggest threats to the West: Russia and China.
And it’s taking the fight directly to Moscow and Beijing — a spirit Durbin has seen since his first visit here in 1979.
“This country, less than 3 million people, has really shown extraordinary political courage,” the Illinois Democrat told us in an interview at Vilnius’ historic city hall building, known as the Rotušė, during the NATO summit last month. “They’re defying the Chinese, they’re against Putin in every aspect and they are sticking their neck out in ways that many countries won’t do. And I admire them for it.”
Lithuania is at the center of it all. It shares a border with a Russian ally, Belarus. Its government is among the most supportive of Ukraine’s immediate entry into NATO, knowing first-hand the protections it gives eastern European democracies.
And, surprisingly, Lithuania has been mired in a brutal diplomatic fight with China over the tiny Baltic nation’s decision to allow a Taiwanese trade office to be established in Vilnius two years ago. The country recently earned the moniker “the European Union’s biggest China hawk” over its refusal to relent in the face of Beijing’s threats, which included direct economic coercion.
Lithuania’s posture toward China has gotten a lot of attention on the Hill, according to Robert Gilchrist, U.S. ambassador to Lithuania. More than a dozen senators have visited Lithuania since 2021 because of its unapologetic defiance of China, as well as its strategic importance for the war in Ukraine.
“Historically this has been on the margins of Europe, but we’ve gotten a lot of members to come because there’s a strong understanding of what’s happening in the Baltic region,” Gilchrist told us in an interview at a U.S. military base near the Lithuania-Belarus border.
Durbin’s mother was born in Lithuania in 1909 and came to the United States at the age of two. Exactly 70 years later, her son — then a little-known lawyer in Springfield, Illinois, who had just lost two state-level races — visited his mother’s birthplace.
The 1979 trip — organized by the American Council of Young Political Leaders and secured in part by Durbin’s former boss, then-Rep. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) — took Durbin across the USSR for three weeks by train and then to Soviet-occupied Lithuania.
There, Durbin saw what he described as a “drab” and uninspiring capital city with sandbags plastered around the Seimas, the Parliament building. It was a reflection of the perennial dread that came with Soviet occupation.
Lithuania declared its independence in 1990, joined NATO in 2004, and this year hosted the annual NATO summit, where the overwhelming focus was on Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Ukrainian flags have lined the streets of Vilnius for months as Lithuanians express their support — both with words and weapons — for Kyiv, with knowledge of their own history as the guiding force.
“If it weren’t for NATO, these Baltic countries would be in a very different situation right now,” Gilchrist told us. “Lithuanians are cognizant of that.”
Durbin has been elevating Lithuania’s role in the world for years now from his perch in the Senate, but lately it’s become a lot easier. It’s also a legacy play for Durbin, who’s in the finishing stages of his long career in public office.
“To think now that I’m coming to a NATO summit in Vilnius 40 years later — what a dramatic contrast from that drab city of the Soviet era, to this viable part of the world’s future and the NATO summit,” Durbin said.
Back in Washington, of course, the political dynamics surrounding Ukraine are much more complicated. Lithuanians view the war as a top priority both as a domestic and foreign policy issue. Americans, meanwhile, are becoming increasingly skeptical of sending more money to Kyiv — a sentiment reflected by dozens of Republicans in Congress.
— Andrew Desiderio
Well look who it is. SOS America PAC – a PAC supporting Miami Mayor Francis Suarez – is up on national TV with an ad saying he’s the only true fiscal conservative in the race.
– Jake Sherman
All times eastern
8 a.m.: President Joe Biden will get his daily briefing
11 a.m.: Biden will greet Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.
11:15 a.m.: Biden will meet with the Korean and Japanese leaders.
3 p.m.: Biden will hold a news conference with the Korean and Japanese leaders.
6 p.m.: Biden will leave Camp David for Andrews, where he will fly to Reno, Nev.
10:30 p.m.: Biden will arrive in Reno.
“White House Targets Key Democrats on Potential Saudi-Israel Pact,” by Karoun Demirjian and Mark Mazzetti
“At summit with Japan and South Korea, ‘Bidenomics’ brings promise and peril,” by Toluse Olorunnipa
“U.S. intelligence says Ukraine will fail to meet offensive’s key goal,” by John Hudson and Alex Horton
“US Housing Affordability Hits Worst Point in Nearly Four Decades,” by Jennifer Epstein and Prashant Gopal
“Trump Cancels News Conference to Promote Election Fraud Theories,” by Stephanie Lai and Hadriana Lowenkron
“The Ghost Fleet Helping Russia Evade Sanctions and Pursue Its War in Ukraine,” by Jared Malsin in Istanbul
“Jared Kushner’s Deal-Making Career Off to Sluggish Start,” by Dion Nissenbaum and Summer Said
“Trump’s 2024 GOP rivals converge on Atlanta just days after his latest indictment,” by Bill Barrow in Atlanta
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.
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