House Republican leaders are betting that funding the government through the end of the year at already-agreed-to levels will win the support of most members, who are more concerned with winning reelection than waging a spending fight that risks shutting down the government only weeks before the elections.
Republican leadership sees no upside in using the threat of a government shutdown to push Democrats to adopt spending levels below those set in last year's debt-limit agreement, viewing a shutdown as both a political and policy loser. And GOP leaders think there is less appetite among their members to take the debate to the brink the way they did during last summer's debate over whether to raise the nation's debt limit.
"With congressional approval ratings at historic lows, a government-shutdown fight merely reminds voters of the dysfunction of Washington, D.C., which doesn't help incumbents get reelected in Georgia, Nevada, and Ohio," said Erica Elliott, spokeswoman for House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. "We don't want some kind of dramatic shutdown fight. Shutting down the government is not what the American people want either. Americans want their government to be responsible."
Some House conservatives have argued that drastic measures, like a shutdown or allowing the country to default on its debt, is the only way to force Congress to bring spending under control. But House GOP leaders believe that they would quickly lose control of that narrative to President Obama's bully pulpit and take the brunt of the blame--while giving the president the effective foil of a broken Congress.
It's a point not lost on some of the House's most conservative Republicans.
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