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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks to reporters in the US Capitol after the House of Representatives passed a stopgap government funding bill to avert an immediate government shutdown.

REUTERS/ Ken Cedeno

Will avoiding a shutdown cost McCarthy the speakership?

There was no shortage of drama on Capitol Hill this weekend – including a pulled fire alarm that delayed voting by an hour – as the US government managed to avoid another shutdown. Congress passed a stopgap funding bill on Saturday that will keep the lights on through Nov. 17. The proposal easily cleared the House before garnering Senate approval 88 to 9. It included natural disaster aid but no new support for border restrictions or assistance for Ukraine.

The measure passed a day after Republican Rep. Andy Biggs and 20 others blocked a Republican stopgap bill replete with spending cuts, border controls, and curbs on immigration. Unable to fund the government with just conservative votes, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy changed gears, offering a bill that would satisfy Democrats. The absence of fresh support for Ukraine prompted Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet to briefly delay the vote, but bipartisan senators resolved the impasse by pledging to further fund aid to Ukraine "in the coming weeks." President Joe Biden made it clear that “We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted.”

McCarthy is expected to introduce a separate Ukraine aid bill when the House returns. But having worked with Democrats to get this measure passed could cost him his job. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican hardliner, said on Sunday that he plans to move for McCarthy’s ouster this week.

If Gaetz introduces a measure to remove McCarthy, the House will have 48 hours to vote on it.

But McCarthy remains defiant. “If somebody wants to make a motion against me, bring it," he said. "There has to be an adult in the room. I am going to govern with what’s best for this country.”

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