Washington, Sept 25 (The Street Press) – The Republican-led House of Representatives plans to push for significant spending reductions this week, even though these proposals are unlikely to become law. This could potentially lead to a partial shutdown of the U.S. government by next Sunday.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tried to prevent this situation by reaching a spending deal with Democratic President Joe Biden earlier this year. However, some members of his own party have threatened to remove him from his position if he doesn’t support deeper spending cuts, even though these cuts are likely to be rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate.
If Congress doesn’t allocate funding for the new fiscal year beginning on October 1st, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will face furloughs, and various services, including financial oversight and medical research, will come to a halt.
Usually, Congress doesn’t meet this deadline and instead passes temporary spending bills to prevent disruptions while they continue their work. However, House Speaker McCarthy has faced difficulties in gathering support for such a temporary spending extension. A faction of staunch Republicans has declined to support it. With Republicans holding a slim majority in the House, with a count of 221-212, they have limited votes to spare.
McCarthy has postponed the stopgap bill and is opting to promote legislation aligned with conservative priorities.
Upon the House’s return on Tuesday, lawmakers will consider four spending bills for the upcoming fiscal year. These bills aim to implement stricter regulations on abortion access, reverse an $11 billion climate initiative introduced by the Biden administration, and restart the construction of the Mexico-U.S. border wall, a key initiative of former President Donald Trump.
McCarthy mentioned that lawmakers who previously obstructed spending bills last week are now showing a greater willingness to cooperate. He stated, “Apparently they’re willing to work now, so we could have an opportunity,” during a press briefing on Monday.
However, it’s important to note that these bills are expected to be rejected by the Senate, and the White House has made it clear that President Biden would veto two of them.
McCarthy’s hope is that by making this effort, it will generate goodwill and enable him to pass a stopgap measure, thereby avoiding a government shutdown.
Representative Matt Gaetz, a notable critic of McCarthy, declared on Sunday that he would not support a stopgap measure, even if it leads to a government shutdown. He stated on Fox News, “If the departments of Labor and Education have to shut down for a few days as we get their appropriations in line, that’s certainly not something that is optimal. But I think it’s better than continuing on the current path”.
Another staunch conservative, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, issued a statement expressing her opposition to even debating the spending bills on the House floor, citing her concerns about including Ukraine aid within them.
Members of the hardline House Freedom Caucus, led by Greene, have been advocating for agency spending to be reduced to $1.47 trillion, which is $120 billion less than what President Biden and Speaker McCarthy had agreed to in their compromise in May.
It’s worth noting that this reduction in spending represents only a fraction of the overall U.S. budget, which is projected to be $6.4 trillion for this fiscal year. Lawmakers are not considering cuts to popular benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare, as these programs are expected to grow significantly due to an aging population.
In the Senate, a stopgap spending measure is scheduled for advancement on Tuesday. If it passes, McCarthy might need to rely on Democratic votes to pass it in the House as well, in order to prevent a shutdown before October 1st. This could potentially lead to backlash from members of his own party and put his leadership position at risk.
Late on Monday, Bloomberg reported that Senate Republicans and Democrats were nearing an agreement on a short-term spending measure, which could alleviate the shutdown risk.
Former President Trump has encouraged Republicans to trigger a shutdown to disrupt his two federal criminal cases. However, the Justice Department has stated that criminal prosecutions would continue even in the event of a government shutdown.