Government shutdown fears grow as House GOP spending bill fails


WASHINGTON — House GOP leaders on Friday failed to pass a partisan, short-term spending bill with fewer than two days left to fund the federal government and avoid a shutdown. The final vote was 198 to 232, with more than 20 Republicans crossing the aisle to oppose their own party’s bill.

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.

The House Republicans who joined Democrats to vote against it included several of McCarthy’s most outspoken antagonists, like Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Arizona Reps. Andy Biggs and Eli Crane.

“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, and dismissed McCarthy’s suggestion that he would not take a paycheck during a shutdown.

“That is theater. The guy who picks up the trash in my office won’t get a paycheck. That’s real,” said Shalanda Young, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. “We’re doing everything we can to plead, beg, shame House Republicans to do the right thing,” she added.

The GOP bill would have funded the government through Oct. 31. But it had effectively no chance of passing the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, or of being signed by President Joe Biden.

The White House said Biden would stay “in dialogue with Congress,” over the coming days, but insisted the core elements of any spending bill had been agreed to as part of the debt ceiling deal earlier this year.

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.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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