White House condemns Marjorie Taylor Greene threat to shut down government

The White House condemned the “extreme” and “hardcore fringe” of the Republican party after one high-profile, hardcore extremist, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, said she would not vote to fund the government this month without an impeachment inquiry against Joe Biden.

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Without a new spending measure, government funding will run out on 30 September, with federal workers furloughed and agencies shuttered.

In a statement on Thursday night, the White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said: “The last thing the American people deserve is for extreme House members to trigger a government shutdown that hurts our economy, undermines our disaster preparedness, and forces our troops to work without guaranteed pay.”

Nodding to the May deal to raise the debt ceiling, Bates said House Republicans “already made a promise to the American public about government funding, and it would be a shame for them to break their word and fail the country because they caved to the hardcore fringe of their party”.

Greene is a conspiracy theorist and controversialist who has said she is “on a list” to become running mate to Donald Trump if he is the Republican presidential nominee.

Speaking in Georgia, she said she wanted funding withheld from Jack Smith, the special counsel who has brought 44 of 91 criminal charges against Trump. She also said she wanted to fire David Weiss, the special counsel appointed under the Trump administration investigating Hunter Biden, the president’s son and the nexus of unproven corruption allegations fueling the march to impeachment.

“We have to rein in the FBI,” Greene told constituents. “I will not vote for money to go towards those things.

“I will be happy to work with all my colleagues. I will work with the speaker of the House. I will work with everyone. But I will not fund those things.”

Other hard-right Republicans have threatened to vote against government funding. Kevin McCarthy, the speaker who has only a five-seat majority, has indicated he will approve an impeachment inquiry when the House comes back this month.

“If we shut down, all the government shuts down – investigation and everything else,” McCarthy told Fox News last weekend, calling impeachment a “natural step forward” from current investigations.

Trump was impeached twice by House Democrats, first for seeking political dirt in Ukraine, then for inciting the January 6 attack on Congress. Senate Republicans acquitted him both times.

As defined by the Brookings Institution, a government shutdown occurs when “Congress fails to enact the 12 annual appropriation bills [and] federal agencies must cease all non-essential functions until Congress acts”.

Two shutdowns occurred under Trump, the first in January 2018, the second a year later, both resulting from fights over immigration. The first was brief but the second lasted 35 days, the longest in US history. The Congressional Budget Office said it cost about $5bn.

Now, the White House wants a stopgap measure. On Thursday, a spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said: “It is clear that a short-term continuing resolution will be needed next month.”

The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said: This is something that Congress can do. They can prevent a government shutdown. They need to prevent a government shutdown.”

Also on Thursday, as Florida and other southern states assessed damage caused by Hurricane Idalia, the White House requested an extra $4bn to help pay for relief efforts after a number of climate-related disasters.

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In early August, Biden asked Congress to approve about $40bn in additional spending, including $24bn to support Ukraine in its war with Russia and other international needs and $12bn for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) disaster relief fund.

On Thursday, citing wildfire disasters in Hawaii and Louisiana as well as hurricane-related damage in Florida, an OMB spokesperson said the White House now needed $16bn for disaster relief.

“The president has been clear that were going to stand with communities across the nation as they recover from disasters for as long as it takes, and the administration is committed to working with Congress to ensure funding for the [disaster relief fund] is sufficient for recovery needs,” the spokesperson said.

In his statement rebuking Greene, Bates, the White House spokesperson, cited the need to fund “high-stakes needs Americans care about deeply – like fighting fentanyl trafficking, protecting our national security, and funding Fema”.

• Reuters contributed reporting

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