Partial US government shutdown just four days away as Congress deadlock continues


WASHINGTON, Sept 27 (Reuters) – Republican U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday rejected a stopgap funding bill moving forward in the Senate, bringing Washington closer to the fourth partial shutdown of the U.S. government in a decade, with just four days to go. Are left.

This would furlough hundreds of thousands of federal employees and suspend a wide range of government services, from releasing economic data to nutrition benefits, until Congress succeeds in passing a funding bill on which the President Joe Biden, a Democrat, will sign. In law.

The Senate plan, which advanced on Tuesday on a wide bipartisan margin, would fund the government until Nov. 17, giving lawmakers more time to agree on funding levels for the entire fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said the Senate would hold its next procedural vote on the bill Thursday unless senators reach an agreement that would allow them to vote early.

McCarthy’s House of Representatives has been focusing on trying to reach consensus on 12 separate full-year funding bills, of which they have passed one so far.

McCarthy said, “I don’t see support in the House for the Senate plan”, although the bill has the support of Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The House was expected to vote late into the night on amendments to specific funding bills, though even if all four of those bills are signed into law by Saturday, they will not be enough to prevent a partial government shutdown.

Weeks earlier, Biden had urged Congress to pass a short-term extension of spending through fiscal year 2023, along with emergency aid to state and local governments to respond to natural disasters and to help Ukraine in its war against Russia. He also called for new border security funding.

“If our government shuts down, many vital functions, from cancer research to food security to science and health, could be impacted,” Biden said Wednesday. “That’s why the American people need our Republican friends in the House of Representatives to do their job: funding the government.”

The impasse has begun to attract the attention of rating agencies, with both Moody’s and Fitch warning that it could damage the federal government’s credibility.

House Republicans want tougher legislation that could stem the flow of migrants to the US southern border with Mexico and deeper spending cuts enacted in June.

Call for bipartisan partnership

Concerns about a shutdown are already spreading outside Washington. In Atlanta, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum extended its planned Sunday festivities to celebrate the former president’s 99th birthday to Saturday, before federal funds were cut off at midnight, according to local media.

Executive branch agencies were already preparing to determine which federal employees would remain on the job — without pay unless funded by the government — and which ones would be furloughed. A similar exercise was also taking place in Congress, where thousands of legislative aides and other support workers are employed.

“Speaker McCarthy, the only way out of the shutdown is a bipartisan partnership,” Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he opposed the shutdown.

“Border Patrol and ICE agencies will continue to operate without charge during the shutdown,” the Republican lawmaker told reporters on Wednesday, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). McConnell said that “there is no greater chance of a solution in a shutdown than in keeping the government open.”

McCarthy is facing threats from hard-line members of his own party, who in May rejected a $1.59 trillion deal with Biden for discretionary spending through fiscal year 2024 and approved in June, after it In return, a cut of $120 billion was demanded.

A handful of hard-liners have also threatened to remove McCarthy from his leadership role if he passes a spending bill that would require a Democratic vote to pass.

McCarthy said House Republicans would likely introduce their own stopgap measure on Friday.

It was not clear whether the House would vote to pass it.

The standoff comes four months after Washington defaulted on the country’s more than $31 trillion in debt, a move that would have spooked financial markets around the world.

Another downgrade in US credit ratings could push borrowing costs – and the country’s debt – even higher.

Radical Republicans, including Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination, have dismissed the risks of a shutdown and in some cases actively pushed for it.

“My advice is to buckle up — there’s unrest ahead,” Representative Andy Ogles told reporters after attending a closed-door meeting of fellow Republicans.

The chart shows a timeline of 14 US government shutdowns from 1981 to 2020, and a possible shutdown through October 2023 if Congress fails to enact spending measures.

Reporting by Moira Warburton, Richard Cowan, David Morgan, Donna Chiaku and Susan Heavey; Editing by Scott Malone, Tom Hogg and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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