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Congress struggling to avoid shutdown as House and Senate grow more divided.

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Congress struggling to avoid shutdown as House and Senate grow more divided.

The U.S. Congress is facing a deep divide regarding how to prevent a federal government shutdown. While the Senate is moving forward with a bipartisan package to temporarily fund the government, the House is struggling with an unlikely effort that is unlikely to meet the Saturday deadline. The potential shutdown poses significant consequences, including furloughing federal employees, withholding military pay, disrupting air travel, and cutting off vital safety net services. President Joe Biden believes it is the responsibility of House Republicans to resolve the situation, emphasizing that “a deal is a deal.” The Senate has made progress with a temporary measure, but the House’s proposed funding bill faces opposition due to its excessive spending cuts and hardline border security provisions.

Late on Tuesday, the Senate advanced a bipartisan temporary measure, known as a continuing resolution, to keep the government functioning until November 17. The resolution maintains funding at current levels and includes additional provisions for Ukraine and U.S. disaster relief. While it is on track for Senate approval, it faces significant challenges in the House. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, driven by hard-right Republicans demanding drastic spending cuts, has shown no interest in the Senate’s bipartisan efforts or the additional funding for Ukraine. McCarthy plans to revive the House Republicans’ own stopgap funding bill, which includes an 8% reduction in federal spending for various agencies and a hardline border security measure. However, critics, including President Biden, Democrats, and some Republicans, consider this package too extreme. McCarthy has attempted to spur negotiations with Biden over the border package, but with little leverage, it is uncertain if talks will occur.

Before addressing the funding bill, McCarthy is expected to spend the week passing some of the necessary bills to fund government agencies. However, it remains unclear if McCarthy can secure enough votes from his hard-right flank to pass the four bills this week. The reluctance of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from the right flank highlights the belief that the bills are headed towards defeat regardless. The Senate bill, consisting of 79 pages, includes funding for the government at current levels, provisions for Ukraine and U.S. disaster aid, and an extension for Federal Aviation Administration provisions set to expire on Saturday. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer believes the bipartisan approach demonstrated by the Senate bill can triumph over extremism. He emphasizes that a government shutdown would be devastating for the country, a sentiment shared by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Meanwhile, House Republicans, encouraged by former President Donald Trump, aim to stand firm against the Senate’s bipartisan efforts or risk a government shutdown. The ongoing debate is unfolding alongside House Republicans’ first impeachment inquiry hearing regarding President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and as former Trump officials consider future plans to reduce government size and the federal workforce if Trump returns to the White House.

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