Kevin McCarthy counts down the days until GOP takes control of lower chamber

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“Just 20 days until the new House Republican majority …” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy declared on former President Trump’s Truth Social media platform Wednesday morning, hours after Senate GOP leadership announced that congressional negotiators were near an agreement to fund the federal government with a massive year-end spending bill.

The news was a punch in the gut for Mr. McCarthy, the California Republican trying to line up wayward conservatives in his conference who refuse to support his quest for the speakership. Mr. McCarthy is also attempting to convince Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to support government funding into January so they can leverage their new majority in the House on the spending bill.

The legislation is expected to include $858 billion in defense spending, $787 billion in nondefense spending along with additional aid for Ukraine.

In the meantime, Congress is expected to pass a one-week stopgap spending measure intended to avert a partial government shutdown at midnight Friday. The spending bill is not a done deal, though.

Mr. McConnell warned Wednesday on the floor, “Our side has made it clear that the Senate has until December 22 to complete either a full-year funding bill or short-term CR into early next year. That’s the deadline, and those are the two options.”

“If a truly bipartisan full-year bill without poison pills is ready for final Senate passage by late next week, then I’ll support it — for our armed forces particularly,” Mr. McConnell said. “Otherwise, we’ll be passing a short-term continuing resolution into the new year.”

Other Republicans have pleaded with Mr. McConnell to oppose striking a deal with Democrats on a bill during the lame-duck session, telling the Kentucky Republican that Americans sent them back to Congress to serve as a check on out-of-control spending.

Mr. McCarthy had publicly warned GOP leadership in the upper chamber that House Republicans would vote against the lame-duck omnibus bill, signifying a rift between him and Mr. McConnell.

“As I said last week, Republicans will soon be in the majority and in the driver’s seat to fight for our priorities,” Mr. McCarthy said Tuesday morning. “That’s why every Republican should be a NO on Democrats’ lame-duck omnibus bill.”

Mr. McConnell told reporters Tuesday night that Republicans’ minority status in the Senate made it difficult to get a better deal.

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