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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

House GOP prepares four spending bills as shutdown uncertainty grows

Washington — House Republicans will try to advance four party-line funding bills this week, though they would not avert a looming government shutdown.

On Tuesday, the House will vote on whether to bring four funding bills — for the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State and Agriculture — up for a debate and eventually a final vote. But even if the House were to advance the four bills, the bills would not be considered in the Senate because they contain dramatic cuts that Democrats will not support.

Congress has until Saturday night to pass a dozen appropriations bills funding the federal government for another year — or a short-term deal to extend funding while negotiations continue.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Monday deferred to the majority whip on whether there was enough Republican support for a vote for the rule on the House’s consideration of the bills — that is, how long they can be debated, whether they can be amended, and more. His efforts last week to begin debate on the defense spending bill were twice defeated by far-right Republicans who opposed it.

“I feel we’ve made some progress,” McCarthy told reporters. “We’ll know whether Tuesday night that we have.”

McCarthy wants the House to pass a measure to extend government funding for 45 days, but he has acknowledged that he may not have the votes, since hard-right Republicans, who want steeper spending cuts, fiercely oppose a short-term deal. They want Congress to negotiate all 12 spending bills individually.

McCarthy can only lose four votes in the narrowly divided House. If he moves forward with a bill that could garner Democratic support, he faces the prospect of losing his speakership in an ouster by those conservatives.

“I still believe if you shut down, you’re in a weaker position,” McCarthy said Friday. “You need the time to fund the government while you pass all the other appropriations bills.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has called the House’s proposed short-term resolution a “total non-starter” in the Senate.

With the House at an impasse, Schumer said Thursday that he was setting up a path for the Senate to advance a House-passed bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration that could serve as a vehicle for an overall short-term funding extension.

“As I said for months, we must work in a bipartisan fashion to keep our government open, avoid a shutdown and avoid inflicting unnecessary pain on the American people,” he said. “This action will give the Senate the option to do just that.”

Ellis Kim contributed reporting.

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