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U.S. House Republicans Advance Stopgap Bill as Shutdown Still Appears Inevitable

U.S. House Republicans on Friday advanced a newly-crafted stopgap funding bill, which is unlikely to gain support from the Senate, as a federal government shutdown after Saturday midnight appears increasingly inevitable.

The lower chamber voted 218-210 to clear a key procedural hurdle for the measure amid opposition from Democrats and some hardline Republicans, and a final vote is expected Friday afternoon.

The successful procedural vote marks a small win for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has been struggling to garner enough support for a funding plan from his own party in the slim Republican majority.

After last year’s midterm elections, the Republican Party retook over the House, with control of 221 seats, just 9 more than the Democratic Party’s 212 seats, meaning that even five “rebels” are enough to defeat a Republican legislative agenda.

Even if House Republicans approves the bill, it will not be advanced in the Democratic-controlled Senate, as it calls for deep spending cuts and includes border security provisions, both opposed by Democrats.

The House Republicans’ stopgap bill, unveiled Friday morning, would extend funding until Oct. 31 and impose roughly 30-percent spending cuts on most federal agencies, except funding for national defense, veterans affairs, national security and disaster relief, according to a report by The Hill. It would also include provisions to strengthen border security.

The legislation calls for the creation of a fiscal commission to deal with the unsustainable debt growth and to balance the federal budget.

The new stopgap bill marked deeper spending cuts than a previous one released by McCarthy, which would cut spending for most federal agencies by 8 percent and tighten immigration restrictions. That bill was opposed by conservatives within the Republican Party, who demanded steeper spending cuts and leaned against any stopgap bill.

Traditionally, the House moves first on spending and revenue bills, but Republican infighting paralyzed the lower chamber, forcing senators to make the first move on a stopgap bill in the last week ahead of a shutdown.

A bipartisan Senate-proposed bill, unveiled Tuesday, is expected to fund the government until Nov. 17, the week before Thanksgiving, with the funding levels continuing at the same levels as before. It includes roughly 6 billion dollars of aid for Ukraine and about 6 billion in disaster relief funding.

McCarthy said earlier this week that he didn’t see support of the Senate measure in the House, which means there is little chance it will be brought to the House floor. A group of conservatives have voiced concerns about Ukraine aid — urging the Biden administration to make it part of the spending cuts — and criticized the bill for a lack of border security provisions, which revealed the partisan divide over immigration policy.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday lashed out at McCarthy for “constantly adhering to what the hard right wants,” saying that this approach will inevitably lead to a shutdown. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, said “shutting down the government isn’t an effective way to make a point.”

Greg Cusack, a former member of the Iowa House of Representatives, told Xinhua that he cannot begin to adequately express how “embarrassing and infuriating” this present moment is to him.

At a press conference in the U.S. Capitol earlier this week, Republican Senator Joni Ernst said “Congress is not working.”

The U.S. government started notifying federal workers on Thursday that a shutdown seems to be imminent. In a government shutdown, all non-essential operations will be suspended, and many federal workers will be furloughed. JPMorgan estimates that each week of government shutdown reduces GDP growth by 0.1 percentage point.




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