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US Senate's proposed stopgap funding measure unlikely to advance in House: Speaker McCarthy

IANS | September 28, 2023 10:53 AM

WASHINGTON: US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said the Senate's proposed stopgap funding measure is unlikely to advance in the House, as a federal government shutdown looks increasingly likely.

"I don't see the support in the House" for the Senate bill, McCarthy told reporters on Wednesday, referring to a short-term funding bill unveiled by the Senate on Tuesday afternoon.

The Senate-proposed bill is expected to fund the government until November 17, the week before Thanksgiving, with the funding levels continuing at the same levels as before. It includes $6.1 billion of aid for Ukraine and nearly $6 billion in disaster relief funding, Xinhua news agency reported.

A group of conservative Republicans in the House have opposed to aid for Ukraine, arguing that this needs to be among the deep spending cuts. House Republicans have also indicated they want a measure that includes border security provisions.

"If they want to put focus on Ukraine and not focus on the southern border, I think their priorities are backwards, " McCarthy said on Tuesday about the Senate measure.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday lashed out at McCarthy for "constantly adhering to what the hard right wants, " saying that the House Republicans have been pushing partisan bills.

"Every path they've pursued to date will inevitably lead to a shutdown, " Schumer said in the House.

Schumer described the "continuing resolution" as a "bridge" to buy negotiators more time to reach an agreement on a longer-term funding bill.

The Senate voted 77-19 to advance the bill, demonstrating rare bipartisanship at a time when Congress has become increasingly polarised. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the White House have both endorsed the measure.

Traditionally, the House moves first on spending and revenue bills but Senators feel the urgency to make the first move to keep the government funded, after McCarthy failed to gain support from his own party on a stopgap bill that would cut the budgets of most federal agencies by about eight per cent and tighten immigration restrictions.

In an attempt to appease hard-line Republicans, who oppose any short-term funding extension and want Congress to negotiate all 12 annual spending bills individually, the House on Tuesday voted to advance four bills that would fund the departments of defense, homeland security, state and agriculture for another fiscal year. But such efforts won't be able to prevent a government shutdown.

McCarthy has said he plans to have the House take up a stopgap funding bill on Friday, right ahead of the Saturday deadline, when government funding for fiscal year 2023 is set to expire. His measure would drop aid for Ukraine and include border security provisions.

With lawmakers still in disagreement on how to fund the government, government shutdown odds grow. A shutdown usually temporarily stop all non-essential operations, and all but the government's most essential workers will be furloughed.

While a short-term shutdown would have limited impact on the economy, its impact could be more significant if the stalemate continued for longer. Furloughed federal workers could reduce spending during the shutdown, dragging down consumption growth, while the government would also temporarily cut back on purchases of goods and services.

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