Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), a top ally of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), on Friday said he is willing to shut down the federal government if the Biden administration does not accept some border policy changes that Republicans have attached to a framework to keep the government open past Sept. 30.
“[In] 2021, a load of 50 million fentanyl pills, laced pills, have come across the southern border. The cartels are making $13 billion a year doing human smuggling. This is outrageous what is going on right now. And it is affecting every single state,” Graves said.
“This is something I would shut down the government over if this administration is unwilling to put more reasonable policies in place,” he added.
He would only take that stand, however, assuming the House could pass that stopgap with the border provisions and send it to the Senate.
The comments from Graves, who has the GOP conference position of Chair of the Elected Leadership Committee and has been in numerous negotiations on behalf of McCarthy, are notable given House GOP leadership’s struggles to get the conference on board with a partisan short-term plan to fund the government past Sept. 30 — and the open warnings from GOP leadership, including Graves, against a government shutdown.
“I think a shutdown’s a failure. I do,” Graves said earlier during a sit-down with reporters on Friday.
“I think that we should work at all costs to avoid spending. Let me say it again: If we ever shut down, number one, who’s going to stand up and say, ‘Yeah, I think our military men and women shouldn’t be paid.’ We’re not going to be able to fund our, you know, border agents. All kinds of other havoc is going to be rigged across our nation. And that’s a failure,” Graves said.
House Republican leaders are aiming to pass a GOP-only stopgap measure that includes the bulk of Republicans’ H.R. 2 border crackdown bill that passed earlier this year, which includes numerous Trump-era policies like requiring authorities to detain all migrants or return them to Mexico or their home country and re-starting construction of the border wall.
The strategy is to pass that bill to set the House up for negotiations with the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House, as the chamber during debt limit negotiations earlier this year.
But disputes over other portions of the framework, with topline figures across all 12 regular appropriations bills to fund the government, and with the prospect of a continuing resolution to fund the government at all have combined to foil plans to pass a stopgap earlier this week, sending the House GOP into chaos.
One thing Republicans can agree on, though, is the desire to play hardball on the border. Other Republicans like Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and the House Freedom Caucus have been calling to include border policy changes as part of a continuing resolution for weeks.
Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), chair of the House Financial Services Committee and another key McCarthy ally, said that the idea to pair border policy measures with a continuing resolution to fund the government were first floated by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, earlier this year during a GOP leadership retreat.
“All this thing about the weeds right of the number – nobody out there gives a damn on the precision of that number amidst all this spending. But the policy? The policy, they see as a clarifying thing,” McHenry said.
Graves and McHenry were both instrumental negotiators for McCarthy both during the Speakers’ race in January and during the debt limit negotiations earlier this year.
As they continue to try to build support for a GOP-only stopgap, Republicans are moving forward on passing appropriations bills at overall lower levels in the hopes of building goodwill and building support for a GOP-only continuing resolution. But they have gotten no commitments from the holdouts on that yet.