Washington prepares for the shutdown that was never supposed to happen

Congress returns to Washington with a government shutdown imminent amid struggles to agree on spending levels.

Legislative backdrop: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had previously reached an agreement with President Biden setting spending levels, which had bipartisan support.
* Despite that, a small group of hard-line conservatives rejected the agreed plan for not including deeper spending cuts.
* McCarthy has since yielded to conservative demands, siding with his slim majority.

Senate’s countermove: The Democratic-led Senate could try to resolve the stalemate by moving their own bipartisan, temporary funding measure.
* Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has put forward a vehicle that could be used as a stopgap spending bill.
* This move, however, could potentially take days due to any single Senate member’s objection, and it’s also unclear if the plan could receive enough bipartisan support if it included aid for Ukraine or a response to recent U.S. public disasters.

House complications: While the Senate works on a stopgap, its success still depends on whether McCarthy would allow a Senate plan to be voted on in the House.
* McCarthy faces pressures both from the far-right, with Rep. Matt Gaetz threatening to initiate the process to remove McCarthy as speaker if he doesn’t comply, and from former President Trump advocating spending cuts.
* A small bipartisan group, the Problem Solvers Caucus, has begun working on a procedure known as a discharge petition to bypass McCarthy and force a spending vote, but this plan would require time and widespread agreement.

In McCarthy’s hands: At this point, the fate of government spending largely rests with McCarthy.

View original article on NPR

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