House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Breaks with McConnell, Will Oppose $1.7 Trillion Omnibus Bill

Republican House Minority Leader Representative Kevin McCarthy of California will reportedly campaign against the omnibus spending bill, with a $1.7 trillion price tag, that Republicans in the Senate negotiated with Democrats. 

McCarthy’s break with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly came Wednesday, a day after leadership in the Senate agreed to the omnibus bill. Congress is expected to vote on the bill in the next few days. 

House Republicans, including Republican Representative Dan Bishop of North Carolina, have taken issue with certain aspects of the bill, including its massive price tag. Bishop pointed out what he referred to as a “sinister” portion of the bill that allows almost $600 million to encourage “family planning” in places where growth in the population is considered a threat to animal biodiversity. 

“Malthusianism is a disturbing, anti-human ideology that should have ZERO place in any federal program,” wrote Bishop on Twitter. 

In-fighting amongst the Republicans over the spending bill comes as Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, visits Washington for the first time since the invasion by Russia began. The $1.7 trillion package includes $45 billion in funding for the war-torn country’s military.

While McCarthy has called for increased scrutiny on funding to Ukraine and end “blank checks.” McConnell is all-in on continuing to continue funding Ukraine’s defense. 

“Providing assistance for Ukrainians to defeat the Russians is the No. 1 priority for the United States right now, according to most Republicans,” said McConnell.

President Biden announces $1.85 billion in new aid to Ukraine

Despite the fate of the omnibus bill, President Biden announced a new $1.85 billion aid package to Ukraine, including a Patriot missile battery. Patriot missiles are considered the most advanced American air defense system. 

Congress is trying to pass the year-end spending package quickly before leaving Washington for the holiday break. Government funding is set to run out at the end of the week. The Senate took the first procedural vote on Tuesday after the bill’s text was released early in the morning. To pass the bill and keep the government running, the chamber will need buy-in from all 100 senators. 

The 100 senators include various conservatives, including a senator who previously criticized the fast-paced spending debate as “extortion” and “legislative barbarism.” GOP leaders hope the call of home combined with a massive storm that threatens to blanket half the country could deliver a holiday gift: final passage on the enormous bill. 

A vote midweek in the Senate would align with the House’s plan to return to work, pushing the omnibus bill over the finish line. 

Some senior aides believe that whenever the spending package does make it to the House of Representatives, the chamber could pull a late-night session to take care of the bill and send members home as soon as possible to avoid the wintery weather. 

“I think the storm may put a little bit of extra encouragement to try to expedite things,” said Republican Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota.

Hopes were high for the bill as McConnell echoed Thune, saying they “hope to finish tomorrow.” Meanwhile, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer cited the coming snowstorm on the floor and urged the chamber to pass the package “much sooner” than Friday. “I hope no senator stands in the way of us finishing our work.”