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A frantic scramble to avoid a shutdown

We just wanted to send a quick note to let everyone know what’s happening on Capitol Hill with less than 12 hours until a government shutdown.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy abandoned his promise this morning to insist on border-security provisions and spending cuts in a short-term government funding bill.

But in doing so, he may have averted a government shutdown. We’ll see whether someone tries to strip him of his gavel.

The House has begun debating a GOP-drafted 45-day stopgap funding bill at FY2023 spending levels. The legislation also includes an extension of the FAA authorization and flood insurance programs, as well as $16 billion in disaster relief.

But there’s no new money for Ukraine in this proposal, a huge concern for the Democrats and the White House.

McCarthy is moving this bill under suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds majority for passage. So a healthy number of both Republicans and Democrats would need to vote for the legislation to send it to the Senate.

This is a new strategy by McCarthy. Up until now, the California Republican has been hesitant to face the reality that the only way to avoid a shutdown is to pass a bill with Democrats. A group of hardline conservatives led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has threatened to offer a motion to strip McCarthy of his gavel.

But in putting a clean CR on the floor, he embraced that risk.

Asked whether he is risking his job, McCarthy said: “Because I want to be the adult in the room? Go ahead and try.”

Gaetz, McCarthy’s chief tormentor, said McCarthy’s hold on his job is “on tenuous ground.”

House aides and lawmakers in both parties expect this CR to pass. But Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, has been bashing the bill on the floor. And her committee sent out a document railing against the legislation.

Over in the Senate, a cloture vote on the chamber’s bipartisan CR — originally scheduled for 1 p.m. — is indefinitely on hold.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans would vote against cloture. If the House passes its 45-day CR, the assumption is that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would move to pass it. Crucially, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told us that he won’t object to a time agreement to speed up final passage — meaning it could pass as soon as today on the bipartisan CR.

As of this moment, Senate Republicans are largely rallying behind the House’s bill, arguing that Schumer should abandon the Senate’s existing CR.

“We should pass whatever keeps government open,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told us. “I’ve been supportive of Ukraine funding… but we can’t shut down the U.S. government over funding to a foreign government, no matter how great the cause may be.”

Democratic senators have been largely noncommittal as they walked into the Senate chamber for a live quorum call this afternoon. Some are griping about Ukraine aid being left out of the House bill, but it’s unclear if they’d tank the whole measure because of that.

One pro-Ukraine Democratic senator conceded that it would be a bad look for the party if they rejected a House-passed bill to fund the government just because it doesn’t include Ukraine funding. “We would be blamed for shutting down the government,” this senator said.

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— Jake Sherman, John Bresnahan, Andrew Desiderio and Mica Soellner

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