House begins voting on long-shot spending plan as federal government shutdown fears grow


WASHINGTON — House GOP leaders on Friday began voting on a partisan, short-term spending bill that has no chance of passing in the Senate, with fewer than two days left to fund the federal government and avoid a shutdown.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy pitched the bill as a way for his fellow Republicans to buy time to pass a slate of individual agency spending bills.

“We actually need a stop-gap measure to allow the House to continue to finish its work, to make sure our military gets paid, to make sure our border agents get paid as we finish the job that we’re supposed to do,” McCarthy told reporters.

The White House blasted the House GOP caucus for engaging in brinksmanship.

“Extreme House Republicans are solely to blame for marching us toward a shutdown,” said White House Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre. “That is what we’re seeing right now. It is a basic fact.”

The GOP bill ostensibly would fund the government through Oct. 31.

But it has effectively no chance of passing the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, or of being signed by President Joe Biden.

In addition to the opposition it faces from Democrats, the bill is also on thin ice with a key bloc of conservative House Republicans whose votes McCarthy needs to pass it with his narrow majority.

As debate on the bill got underway Friday, more than a half-dozen House Republicans indicated that they would vote “No,” on the stopgap plan.

They include several of McCarthy’s most outspoken antagonists, like Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Arizona Reps. Andy Biggs and Eli Crane.

Ahead of the final vote, Democrats used their allotted debate time to hammer McCarthy and his caucus.

“Everyone in this room knows that keeping the government operating and passing bills to fully fund the next fiscal year will require bipartisan cooperation,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the top Democrat on the powerful Appropriations Committee. The Connecticut lawmaker called Friday’s votes, “a pointless charade with grave consequences for the American people.”

The Senate easily advanced its own short-term funding bill Thursday by a 76-22 margin. The next vote in that chamber is scheduled for Saturday.

The Senate bill is likely to be amended ahead of Saturday’s vote, and the next version could contain stronger border security measures that House Republicans are demanding.

Missing the Senate vote will be Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who died late Thursday at her home in Washington, D.C.

The government is scheduled to shut down at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday if a funding bill is not approved by Congress and signed into law by Biden.

Across Washington on Friday, government agencies prepared their employees and the public for the effects of a shutdown.

The Smithsonian Institution said it would use existing funds from last year to keep its museums and the National Zoo open for at least the next week.

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