The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are taking divergent paths in their efforts to pass spending bills to avert a government shutdown. The Senate is pushing for a bipartisan stopgap funding bill, while the House is voting on partisan Republican spending bills that are unlikely to become law. The differing approaches increase the chances of federal agencies running out of money on Sunday and causing furloughs for federal workers and halting various services. The funding fight largely centers around a small portion of the overall U.S. budget for the fiscal year, with popular benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare not being considered for cuts.
The Senate has already voted to start debate on a stopgap bill that would extend federal spending until Nov. 17 and allocate funds for domestic disaster response and aid to Ukraine. However, this measure has been rejected by House Republicans, who are demanding spending cuts and tougher legislation on immigration issues. House Republicans have rejected spending levels set in a deal negotiated between Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden earlier this year. McCarthy is facing pressure from his caucus to cut spending and achieve conservative priorities, and some hardliners have threatened to remove him from his leadership role if he passes a spending bill that requires Democratic votes.
The House has already passed three out of four bills funding government parts, but these bills alone would not prevent a shutdown. Former President Trump has expressed support for a shutdown on social media, while McCarthy suggested that a shutdown could be avoided if Senate Democrats address border issues in their stopgap measure. Credit agencies have warned that political polarization and brinkmanship are negatively impacting the U.S. financial outlook, with a shutdown potentially harming the country’s credit rating. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer emphasized the need for bipartisanship to responsibly fund the government and avoid unnecessary pain for the American people and the economy.