The Republican-led House of Representatives is poised to push for substantial spending reductions this week, even though these cuts are unlikely to become law and may trigger a partial U.S. government shutdown by the following Sunday.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had initially negotiated a spending agreement with Democratic President Joe Biden earlier this year to avert such a situation.
However, some members within his own party have threatened to remove him from his position if he fails to support deeper cuts, which are expected to be rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate.
If Congress fails to allocate funding for the new fiscal year starting on October 1, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will face furloughs, and various essential services, including financial oversight and medical research, will be halted.
Historically, Congress often misses this deadline and resorts to temporary spending bills to prevent disruptions.
McCarthy has struggled to garner support for a temporary spending extension, as a faction of staunch Republicans has resisted cooperation.
Given the narrow 221-212 Republican majority in the House, McCarthy is left with limited votes to spare.
In response, McCarthy has delayed the stopgap bill and instead plans to advance legislation that aligns with conservative priorities.
Upon the House’s return, lawmakers will deliberate four spending bills for the upcoming fiscal year.
These bills propose new restrictions on abortion access, the reversal of an $11 billion Biden administration climate initiative, and the resumption of construction on the Mexico-U.S. border wall—an initiative championed by former President Donald Trump.
While McCarthy has suggested that the previously obstructive lawmakers are now more willing to cooperate, these bills are destined for rejection in the Senate.
The White House has also indicated that President Biden would veto two of them.
McCarthy hopes that these efforts will foster goodwill and enable him to pass a stopgap measure, thus averting a government shutdown.
However, Representative Matt Gaetz, a prominent critic of McCarthy, has stated that he will not support a stopgap, even if it results in a shutdown.
Another hardliner, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, has vowed not to back bringing the spending bills up for debate in the House, primarily due to the inclusion of Ukraine aid.
Members of the hardline House Freedom Caucus have advocated for reducing agency spending to $1.47 trillion—$120 billion less than what Biden and McCarthy agreed upon in their May compromise.
This reduction constitutes only a fraction of the overall U.S. budget, projected to reach $6.4 trillion for this fiscal year.
Popular benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare remain untouched, as they are expected to grow with an aging population.
In the Senate, there are plans to advance a stopgap spending measure on Tuesday.
Its passage could force McCarthy to rely on Democratic votes to prevent a shutdown before October 1, potentially jeopardizing his position.
Former President Trump has encouraged Republicans to instigate a shutdown in a bid to disrupt his ongoing federal criminal cases.
However, the Justice Department has affirmed that criminal prosecutions would persist even in the event of a shutdown.