WASHINGTON, Sept 22 (Reuters) – Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday hammered out a new strategy in a long-running effort to avert a fourth government shutdown in a decade as time runs out ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline.
Republicans have yet to advance legislation to keep the government running when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
Instead, they are preparing four separate spending bills, most of which reflect the deep cuts demanded by the right wing of the party. They are certain to be rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate because they fall far short of the spending levels outlined in the deal struck with Democratic President Joe Biden earlier this year.
The White House said Biden would veto those two bills.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy said the House could vote on those bills on Tuesday. Passing the spending bills would give Republicans some leverage in negotiations with the Senate.
McCarthy said he hoped that would allow him to introduce a stop-gap funding bill to keep the government running until October 31. Some far-right Republicans disagreed with that idea.
“If you shut down, I still believe we’re in a weak position. You need time to fund the government while you pass all the appropriations bills,” he said, adding that he thought the overall spending fight should be a major focus. New immigration restrictions at the border.
If Congress disagrees on spending levels, many government functions, from fiscal oversight to civil litigation, will be curtailed.
The House Rules Committee met Friday afternoon to consider four bills that would fund the military, homeland security, agriculture programs, the State Department and other foreign operations for the full fiscal year.
Republicans hold a narrow 221-212 majority in the House and can afford very few defections.
On Thursday, the House blocked a procedural vote on the $886 billion defense spending bill, with five Republicans joining with Democrats to overturn it. It’s the third time Republicans have failed to advance the legislation, which usually enjoys broad support in the party.
Former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has raved about the shutdown. During Trump’s four-year presidency, the government shut down three times.
A shutdown is not a forecast. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, has scheduled a procedural vote on Tuesday evening to advance a stopgap funding bill.
If it passes, McCarthy will have to decide whether to bring it to a vote in the House, knowing it could anger his far-right Republicans.
This could prompt a move to remove McCarthy from his speakership, leading to further chaos in the House.
Reporting by Makini Price and Richard Cowan; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Alistair Bell
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