Some hardline Republicans push U.S. government closer to shutdown. What to know

Click to play video: 'U.S. Congress to vote on short-term spending measure as government shutdown just days away'
U.S. Congress to vote on short-term spending measure as government shutdown just days away
WATCH: The U.S. House of Representatives is planning a vote on a short-term spending measure as a government shutdown is now just days away. If Congress doesn’t act quickly, the government could come to a halt as early as Sunday – with far-reaching implications for federal workers and the North American economy. – Sep 29, 2023

The U.S. federal government was two days from a partial shutdown on Friday, as a handful of hardline House Republicans refused to support a bipartisan stopgap spending bill meant to give lawmakers more time to negotiate a full-year deal.

The National Park Service will close, the Securities and Exchange Commission will suspend most of its regulatory activities and hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be furloughed beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET on Sunday (0401 GMT) if Congress does not pass a spending package that can be signed into law by President Joe Biden before then.

House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy succeeded in passing three of four bills late Thursday that would fund four federal agencies. The bills were written to accommodate hardline conservative demands and stand no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate, though even if they became law, they would not avert a partial shutdown because they do not fund the full government.

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Click to play video: 'U.S. government shutdown looms with October deadline'
U.S. government shutdown looms with October deadline

Republican hardliners have said they will not take up a Senate bill to fund the government through Nov. 17, which has advanced with broad bipartisan support, including that of top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell.

The shutdown would be the fourth in a decade and comes just four months after a similar standoff brought the federal government within days of defaulting on its US$31 trillion -plus in debt. The repeated brinkmanship has raised worries on Wall Street, where Moody’s has warned it could damage the nation’s creditworthiness.

McCarthy and Biden in June agreed to a deal that would have funded the government with discretionary spending at US$1.59 trillion in fiscal 2024, but House Republican hardliners are demanding another US$120 billion in cuts plus tougher legislation that would stop the flow of immigrants at the U.S. southern border with Mexico.

Click to play video: 'Biden warns Republicans against shutdown'
Biden warns Republicans against shutdown

The current fight focuses on a relatively small slice of the US$6.4 trillion U.S. budget for this fiscal year. Lawmakers are not considering cuts to popular benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

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Several hardliners have threatened to oust McCarthy from his leadership role if he passes a spending bill that requires any Democratic votes to pass, an outcome almost guaranteed given that any successful House bill must also pass the Senate, controlled by Democrats 51-49.

Former President Donald Trump, Biden’s likely election opponent in 2024, has taken to social media to push his congressional allies toward a shutdown.


House Republicans expressed annoyance late Thursday with their hardline colleagues, who have stymied the process at almost every turn.

“They can’t set a fire, call the fire department, turn off their water supply and then blame them for not putting out the fire,” Representative Dan Crenshaw told Reuters. “That’s kind of what’s happening right now.”

Representative Mike Garcia, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, described himself as “frustrated.”

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“We don’t have a good position going into what would be a negotiation with the Senate,” he told Reuters.

Click to play video: 'Republicans launch Biden impeachment inquiry'
Republicans launch Biden impeachment inquiry

Representative Richard Neal, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, described the appropriations process as “the worst in the 35 years I’ve been here.”

Moderate Republicans are pushing for a vote on their own short-term spending measure, which would also most likely not pass the Senate if it includes the expected harsh border measures that Democrats do not support.

“We are in a mess,” Representative Marc Molinaro, a moderate Republican, said in a statement on Wednesday, referring to the situation at the border. “In a bipartisan government, our solution must be bipartisan.”

A shutdown will also delay vital economic data releases, which could trigger financial market volatility, and delay the date that retirees learn how much their Social Security payments will rise next year. Social Security payments themselves would continue.


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