House of Representative lawmakers on Saturday backed a last-gasp measure proposed by Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy to avoid a shutdown of the federal government within hours.
Republicans and Democrats have so far failed to agree on measures to contain US government spending, amid reluctance by some conservatives to send more aid to Ukraine.
What is McCarthy’s stopgap measure?
The speaker pushed a 45-day funding bill through the House with Democratic help, which would keep public services open for now.
The measure would fund the US government at current 2023 levels until November 17.
The bill does not include financial support to Ukraine, a White House priority opposed by a growing number of GOP lawmakers, but would increase federal disaster assistance by $16 billion, meeting ‘s full request.
The quick pivot came after the collapse Friday of McCarthy’s earlier plan to pass a Republican-only bill with steep spending cuts of up to 30% to most government agencies.
The White House and Democrats rejected that plan as too extreme.
What’s causing the delay?
Congress has been unable to break the deadlock, largely due to a small group of hard-line Republicans in the House pushing back against temporary funding proposals that would at least keep the lights on.
Both sides need to meet a midnight Saturday deadline to fund government operations or face a disruptive federal shutdown.
The closure would include everything from troops to border control agents to office workers, scientists and others.
Federal workers will face furloughs, more than 2 million active-duty and reserve military troops will work without pay and welfare programs and services that Americans rely on from coast to coast will begin to face disruptions.
What happens now?
The measure would extend government funding by 45 days if it passes the Democratic-majority Senate and is signed into law by Biden.
Across the Capitol, the Senate was opening a rare weekend session and hoping to advance its own stopgap plan, but with $6 billion for Ukraine.
McCarthy’s job on the line
The pivot tests McCarthy’s narrow 221-212 majority and could even lead to a challenge to his position as speaker.
The maneuver required Democratic votes, a fact that angered some Republican party hardliners who had wanted to pass a bill without their support.
The latest standoff comes just months after Congress brought the federal government to the brink of .
The drama has raised worries on Wall Street, where Moody’s ratings agency has warned it could damage US creditworthiness.
Congress typically passes stopgap spending bills to buy more time to negotiate the detailed legislation that sets funding for federal programs.
mm/xx (AFP, AP, Reuters)
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