U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his Republican colleagues are making another attempt to advance their spending agenda with a procedural vote on Thursday. Republicans want to open debate on an $886 billion defense spending bill but have twice already failed to advance the vote. The risk of a government shutdown increases as time runs out, with only ten days left until the October 1st deadline.
McCarthy expressed confidence that they have a plan going forward and said Republicans are also close to finalizing a short-term funding measure called the Continuing Resolution (CR). To avoid a government shutdown, the House and Democratic-led Senate must agree on short- or long-term spending legislation so President Joe Biden can sign the legislation into law. However, the partisan measures introduced by Republicans face strong resistance from Democrats in the Senate and the White House.
Former President Donald Trump also further unsettled McCarthy with his calls for a government shutdown. Trump, who is currently awaiting four criminal charges, made the statement on his Truth Social platform. He declared that Republicans in Congress should scrap parts of “crazy Joe Biden’s militarized government.” This kind of political gamesmanship has raised concerns on Wall Street since Fitch downgraded the credit rating of U.S. Treasury bonds earlier this year because of repeated last-minute negotiations that jeopardized the government’s ability to pay its bills.
The Republican spending agenda has faced resistance from a group of radical conservatives who are demanding assurances that appropriations for the 2024 fiscal year will not exceed a maximum of $1.47 trillion. McCarthy and Biden had already agreed on a higher amount in May. A bipartisan group called the Problem Solvers Caucus has proposed a measure to fund the government through Jan. 11, but without McCarthy’s support it remains uncertain how the measure will move forward.
McCarthy is seeking support by offering a 30-day CR that would reduce spending to 2022 levels. He has also created a commission to address the federal debt and conservative immigration and border restrictions. Despite these proposals, it is unclear how much support McCarthy will receive from House Republicans. As the government shutdown deadline approaches, pressure is on to find a solution that secures bipartisan support and avoids disruption to federal operations.