A government shutdown appears to be imminent as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has stated that he will not take up Senate legislation intended to keep the federal government running. House Republicans have struggled to unite around an alternative solution. With just days before a potential shutdown, Congress is at a deadlock, which would result in halted paychecks for federal government employees, furloughs for workers, and reduced government services. The House and Senate have pursued different approaches to avoid these consequences, but time is running out as government funding expires after midnight on Saturday.
The Senate is working towards passing a bipartisan measure that would fund the government until November 17, while negotiations for a longer-term solution continue. This measure would also allocate $6 billion for Ukraine and $6 billion for U.S. disaster relief. On the other hand, the House has scheduled votes on four spending bills in hopes of rallying enough Republican support for a temporary funding and border security resolution. House Speaker McCarthy is optimistic about reaching a deal and believes they can work through the weekend to resolve the impasse.
Tensions were high during McCarthy’s closed-door meeting with Republicans, with a heated exchange between him and Representative Matt Gaetz. Gaetz confronted McCarthy about conservative online influencers being paid to post negative content about him, but McCarthy dismissed these concerns. This encounter has caused further divisions within the majority, leaving McCarthy scrambling to come up with a plan to prevent a shutdown and gain Republican support.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer criticized McCarthy for catering to a small group of Republicans and deviating from the agreement reached this summer on top-line spending levels. Schumer believes McCarthy’s actions make a shutdown more likely. McCarthy insists that the House will have its say and wants to find common ground among Republicans, even if it proves challenging.
President Joe Biden is urging McCarthy to find a compromise with Democrats, despite the potential implications for his speakership. The White House and the Department of Homeland Security have already alerted staff to prepare for a shutdown, and employees who are furloughed would have four hours on Monday to prepare their offices. Commissioned officers and essential personnel would continue their work, but others, including IRS employees, would be furloughed, leading to unanswered taxpayer phone calls and the closure of Taxpayer Assistance Centers.
Many Republicans fear being blamed for a shutdown, including Senate Republicans who align with Democrats on temporary measures. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell shares some of the goals of House Republicans but cautions that a shutdown will not achieve them and would hinder progress on key issues.
Despite the potential for a shutdown, some House Republicans see an opportunity to leverage the situation to advance their agenda of limiting federal spending and addressing illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. They believe the American people do not want an open Southern border and want to take advantage of the current circumstances.
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