The US government is at risk of a shutdown as House Republicans oppose a last-minute funding proposal being formed in the Senate. The Senate has moved forward with plans for a temporary funding agreement, which is opposed by House Republicans. Congress faces a deadline of midnight on Saturday to pass a new budget before federal employees face unpaid leave. However, at least nine hardline members of House leader Kevin McCarthy’s Republican majority are refusing to support any stopgap measure, threatening to remove McCarthy as House Speaker if he relies on Democratic votes to pass a funding bill without them.
This disagreement between the Senate and the House increases the likelihood of a government shutdown. The Senate has passed a short-term funding bill that has bipartisan support, aimed at avoiding a shutdown until 17 November. But for this bill to become law, it needs to pass in the House, where hardline Republicans are refusing to support it. McCarthy has stated that he has no plans to take up the Senate legislation in the House. The House is expected to hold its own votes on Friday for short-term spending bills that are unlikely to pass in the Senate.
House Republicans’ opposition to the funding proposal highlights a growing ideological divide within the Republican party. Although the right-wing flank only makes up a small number of members, they hold significant power in a narrowly controlled chamber. These conservatives demand spending cuts and prioritize what they consider conservative issues, opposing anything that resembles business as usual in Washington. This puts McCarthy in a difficult position, as he may need to rely on Democrats to support a short-term spending bill to avoid a shutdown, which could trigger a vote to oust him as Speaker.