Republican U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has rejected a stopgap funding bill in the Senate, increasing the likelihood of a partial shutdown of the U.S. government. With just four days remaining, failure to pass a funding bill would lead to the furlough of federal workers and the suspension of various government services. The Senate plan, which received bipartisan support, would fund the government until November 17, allowing more time for lawmakers to agree on funding levels for the full fiscal year. McCarthy stated that he does not see support for the bill in the House and called on President Joe Biden to take action.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is working on passing separate full-year funding bills, but even if they are all signed into law, they would not be enough to prevent a partial government shutdown. President Biden had previously urged Congress to pass a short-term extension of spending for fiscal year 2023, as well as emergency aid for natural disasters and support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. The standoff between parties has caught the attention of ratings agencies, who warn that it could harm the federal government’s credit-worthiness. House Republicans are pushing for stricter immigration measures and deeper spending cuts.
The preparations for a potential shutdown are underway, with agencies determining which workers would be furloughed and which would remain on the job without pay. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer emphasized the need for bipartisanship to avoid a shutdown. The Senate bill also includes funding for domestic disaster responses and aid to Ukraine. McCarthy, facing pressure from hardline members of his party, negotiated a deal with Biden in May but is now being pushed for additional spending cuts. Hardline Republicans downplay the risks of a shutdown, with some even actively advocating for one. It remains to be seen if the House will pass its own stopgap measure and if it will garner enough votes for passage. The possibility of a U.S. credit rating downgrade looms if a shutdown occurs, which could lead to higher borrowing costs and increased debt.