THE UNITED STATES TEETERS ON THE EDGE OF ECONOMIC COLLAPSE
A potential shutdown would trigger the furlough of hundreds of thousands of federal workers and the suspension of an array of essential government services
FERNANDO HESSEL - Washington, DC
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Washington, D.C. - In a move that raises the specter of a government shutdown, Republican U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday voiced his rejection of a stopgap funding bill currently making headway in the Senate. With just four days remaining before the fiscal year deadline, Washington is teetering on the brink of its fourth partial government shutdown in the past decade.
A potential shutdown would trigger the furlough of hundreds of thousands of federal workers and the suspension of an array of essential government services, ranging from the release of economic data to the distribution of nutrition benefits. The crisis would persist until Congress successfully passes a funding bill that aligns with the priorities of President Joe Biden, a Democrat, who would then sign it into law.
The Senate's proposal, which garnered substantial bipartisan support during a Tuesday vote, seeks to fund the government through November 17. This extension aims to provide lawmakers with additional time to reach consensus on funding levels for the full fiscal year commencing on October 1.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that unless senators can reach an agreement allowing for an earlier vote, the next procedural vote on the bill will take place on Thursday.
Meanwhile, McCarthy's House of Representatives has been primarily dedicated to negotiations surrounding the 12 separate full-year funding bills, of which only one has been passed thus far.
McCarthy expressed skepticism about the Senate's plan, stating, "I don't see the support in the House," despite the bill receiving backing from Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The House is anticipated to engage in late-night voting on amendments to specific funding bills. However, even if all four of these bills were to be signed into law by Saturday, they would not suffice to avert a partial government shutdown.
Several weeks ago, President Biden called upon Congress to pass a short-term extension of fiscal 2023 spending. He also urged the allocation of emergency aid to assist state and local governments in addressing natural disasters and providing support to Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. Additionally, the president sought increased funding for border security.
Biden emphasized the potential consequences of a government shutdown, remarking, "If we have a government shutdown, a lot of vital work and science and health could be impacted, from cancer research to food safety. So the American people need our Republican friends in the House of Representatives to do their jobs: Fund the government."
The ongoing standoff has not escaped the attention of credit rating agencies, with both Moody's and Fitch warning that it could harm the federal government's creditworthiness.
House Republicans have underscored their desire for more robust legislation, which includes measures to curtail immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border and deeper spending cuts compared to those enacted in June. As the clock continues to tick down, the nation awaits further developments in this high-stakes political showdown.