Hard-line Republican positions are pushing the US government closer to a shutdown

WASHINGTON, Sept 29 (Reuters) – The U.S. government entered into a partial shutdown on Friday for two days after some hard-line House Republicans refused to support a bipartisan stopgap spending bill.

The National Park Service will be shut down, the Securities and Exchange Commission will suspend most of its regulatory activities, and hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be furloughed by 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday (0401 GMT Sunday) unless Congress passes it. Before that, the spending package will be signed into law by President Joe Biden.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives was scheduled to vote this afternoon on a partisan 30-day funding measure known as a continuing resolution, or CR, that is expected to fail amid strong opposition from Democrats and some hardline conservatives.

The measure would cut spending by $1.47 trillion by 2022 on an annual basis, impose immigration and border security restrictions, and establish a bipartisan committee to examine the U.S. debt.

On Friday morning, Democrats warned that the Republican CR would cut spending by 30% on benefits for poor women and children and a 57% cut in resources to fight wildfires. It will increase spending on defense and homeland security.

Hardliners who oppose the measure want Congress to push for a full-scale spending bill for fiscal year 2024 instead.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy succeeded in passing three of the four bills that would fund four federal agencies late Thursday. The bills were written to accommodate hard-line conservative demands and have no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate, but even if they become law, they would not avert a partial shutdown because they do not fund the entire government.

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Republican hardliners have said they won’t take up a Senate bill to fund the government until Nov. 17, which has advanced with broad bipartisan support, including top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell.

The shutdown is the fourth in a decade and comes four months after a similar shutdown came within days of defaulting on more than $31 trillion in debt. The repeated flexing has raised concerns on Wall Street, where ratings agency Moody’s has warned it could damage the country’s creditworthiness.

McCarthy and Biden agreed in June to a deal that would fund the government by $1.59 trillion through fiscal year 2024. On the US border with Mexico.

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

Many hardliners have threatened to oust McCarthy from his leadership role. If he does pass a spending bill that would favor Democrats, any successful House bill is almost guaranteed to be passed by Democrats in the Senate 51-49.

Former President Donald Trump, Biden’s election opponent in 2024, took to social media to shut down his congressional allies.


House Republicans expressed irritation late Thursday with their hard-line colleagues, who have blocked the process at every turn.

“They can’t start a fire, call the fire department, cut off their water supply and then blame them for not putting out the fire,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw told Reuters. “That’s what’s happening now.”

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

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“We are not in a good position to negotiate with the Senate,” he told Reuters.

Representative Richard Neal, the ranking Democrat on the tax-writing 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 the Senate won’t pass if it includes tougher border measures that Democrats don’t support.

“We are in a mess,” Rep. Mark Molinaro, a moderate Republican, said in a statement Wednesday, referring to the situation at the border. “In a two-party government, our solution must be bipartisan.”

A shutdown would also delay key economic data releases, spark financial market volatility, and delay the date when retirees learn how much their Social Security payments will rise next year. Social Security payments will continue.

The chart shows a timeline of 14 US government shutdowns from 1981 to 2020, and the most likely shutdowns by October 2023 if Congress fails to pass a spending measure.

Report by Moira Warburton; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Otis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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