There was a time when keeping the federal government's doors open was, well, expected.
This weekend, it was a stunning surprise.
The unexpected alliance between a majority of House Republicans and nearly all House Democrats to pass a short-term funding bill avoided what nearly everyone expected to be a costly and perhaps extended government shutdown, a symbol of the dysfunction that has made action in Washington more often wish than reality.
The partisan debates over spending levels for domestic programs, immigration enforcement at the southern border and aid to Ukraine weren't resolved, just postponed for another 47 days. But the fact that the House managed to approve a stopgap measure that seemed sensible to most lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, followed in short order by Senate passage and President Joe Biden's signature, sparked just a glimmer of hope about possibilities ahead.
Could this deal be an omen that, at least on the most pressing issues, the sort of bipartisan negotiation that once was the norm could deliver again? At the last minute, McCarthy pivoted at the behest of his more moderate members. And Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, who has taken care to forge a less toxic relationship with McCarthy than predecessor Rep. Nancy Pelosi had, responded.
Or maybe not. The passage of the so-called continuing resolution put at risk Speaker Kevin McCarthy's future as he faced a revolt by hard-right conservatives in his GOP ranks.
"I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid; I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy," Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said on ABC's "State of the Union."
He vowed to make a parliamentary maneuver within days to oust McCarthy, accusing him of reneging on the promises he made to the combative Freedom Caucus when he was elected in January. "The only way Kevin McCarthy is speaker of the House at the end of this coming week is if Democrats bail him out," he said.
He suggested Democratic representatives would protect McCarthy's position, although Democrats themselves weren't saying that, at least not yet. When shown a clip on ABC's "This Week" of Jeffries speaking, Gaetz scornfully called him "Kevin's new boss."
For his part, McCarthy saved his scorn for Gaetz.
"I'll survive," the speaker said on CBS' "Face the Nation," accusing Gaetz of being "more interested in securing TV interviews than doing something."
But McCarthy didn't dispute that parliamentary rules mean a single GOP member could force the House to consider what is called a move to vacate the chair − that is, to remove the speaker. With the GOP's narrow majority, Gaetz could prevail if McCarthy lost just five Republican votes and didn't gain any Democratic ones.
"Bring it on," McCarthy said. "Let's get over with it, and let's start governing."
A few hours later, at the White House, Biden said McCarthy should learn a lesson from the shutdown-that-wasn't. "I hope this experience for the speaker has been one of personal revelation," he said. He blamed "extreme MAGA Republicans" for the "brinkmanship" that had created an unnecessary crisis, and he demanded that McCarthy fulfill his commitment to approve aid to Ukraine, which to the administration's dismay was cut from the short-term spending bill.
Asked if he trusted the speaker, the president replied, "We'll find out."
For the moment, the government is up and running. Federal employees will be expected to show up for work Monday morning; members of the military will still be getting paychecks. Biden signed the bill to guarantee that with just 32 minutes to spare before Saturday's midnight deadline.
At least, until Nov. 17, when another shutdown may well loom.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Congress dodged a shutdown. Will it cost Kevin McCarthy his job?