As the House returns next week, the relationship between Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell could face its greatest test yet.
For the first few years of President Joe Biden’s administration, the seniormost Republicans in the House and Senate were in lock step on most issues.
They tag-teamed the left’s multitrillion-dollar social spending plan. They worked together to crush plans for a bipartisan commission on the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol siege. And they railed against the president’s bungled pullout of Afghanistan. More recently, McConnell even deferred to the younger McCarthy during negotiations over the debt ceiling, backing up the new speaker every step of the way as he demanded spending cuts in return for increasing the nation’s borrowing cap.
But now, with McCarthy under pressure from conservatives, he and his Kentucky Republican counterpart could quickly find themselves at loggerheads on a government shutdown, a possible Biden impeachment and a massive debate over Ukraine funding.
The issues are already bubbling to the surface.
Upon their return next week, House Republicans under McCarthy plan to continue advancing appropriations bills well below the spending levels the speaker agreed to during bipartisan debt talks with the White House. McConnell, meanwhile, made it clear that he expects House Republicans to stand by their word and swallow larger spending numbers than they’d prefer.
This week, McConnell encouraged his members to back the White House’s request for a $40 billion supplemental spending package funding disaste