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Senate Tries to OK Shutdown Funding    09/30 09:09

   The United States is on the brink of a federal government shutdown after 
hard-right Republicans in Congress rejected a longshot effort to keep offices 
open as they fight for steep spending cuts and strict border security measures 
that Democrats and the White House say are too extreme.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States is on the brink of a federal government 
shutdown after hard-right Republicans in Congress rejected a longshot effort to 
keep offices open as they fight for steep spending cuts and strict border 
security measures that Democrats and the White House say are too extreme.

   With no deal in place by midnight Saturday, federal workers will face 
furloughs, more than 2 million active-duty and reserve military troops will 
work without pay and programs and services that Americans rely on from coast to 
coast will begin to face shutdown disruptions.

   The Senate will be in for a rare Saturday session to advance its own 
bipartisan package that is supported by Democrats and Republicans and would 
fund the government for the short-term, through Nov. 17.

   But even if the Senate can rush to wrap up its work this weekend to pass the 
bill, which also includes money for Ukraine aid and U.S. disaster assistance, 
it won't prevent an almost certain shutdown amid the chaos in the House. On 
Friday, a massive hard-right revolt left Speaker Kevin McCarthy's latest plan 
to collapse.

   "Congress has only one option to avoid a shutdown -- bipartisanship," said 
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

   Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky echoed the sentiment, 
warning his own hard-right colleagues there is nothing to gain by shutting down 
the federal government.

   "It heaps unnecessary hardships on the American people, as well as the brave 
men and women who keep us safe," McConnell said.

   The federal government is heading straight into a shutdown that poses grave 
uncertainty for federal workers in states all across America and the people who 
depend on them -- from troops to border control agents to office workers, 
scientists and others.

   Families that rely on Head Start for children, food benefits and countless 
other programs large and small are confronting potential interruptions or 
outright closures. At the airports, Transportation Security Administration 
officers and air traffic controllers are expected to work without pay, but 
travelers could face delays in updating their U.S. passports or other travel 

   Congress has been unable to fund the federal agencies or pass a temporary 
bill in time to keep offices open for the start of the new budget year Sunday 
in large part because McCarthy, R-Calif., has faced unsurmountable resistance 
from right-flank Republicans who are refusing to run government as usual.

   McCarthy's last-ditch plan to keep the federal government temporarily open 
collapsed in dramatic fashion Friday as a robust faction of 21 hard-right 
holdouts opposed the package, despite steep spending cuts of nearly 30% to many 
agencies and severe border security provisions, calling it insufficient.

   The White House and Democrats rejected the Republican approach as too 
extreme. The Democrats voted against it.

   The House bill's failure a day before Saturday's deadline to fund the 
government leaves few options to prevent a shutdown.

   "It's not the end yet; I've got other ideas," McCarthy told reporters.

   Later Friday, after a heated closed-door meeting of House Republicans that 
pushed into the evening, McCarthy said he was considering options -- among 
them, a two-week stopgap funding measure similar to the effort from hard-right 
senators that would be certain to exclude any help for Ukraine in the war 
against Russia.

   Even though the House bill already cut routine Ukraine aid, an intensifying 
Republican resistance to the war effort means the Senate's plan to attach $6 
billion that Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is seeking from the U.S. 
may have bipartisan support from Democrats but not from most of McCarthy's 

   Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is working to stop that aid in the 
Senate package.

   The White House has brushed aside McCarthy's overtures to meet with 
President Joe Biden after the speaker walked away from the debt deal they 
brokered earlier this year that set budget levels.

   Catering to his hard-right flank, McCarthy had returned to the spending 
limits the conservatives demanded back in January as part of the deal-making to 
help him become the House speaker.

   The House package would not have cut the Defense, Veterans or Homeland 
Security departments but would have slashed almost all other agencies by up to 
30% -- steep hits to a vast array of programs, services and departments 
Americans routinely depend on.

   It also added strict new border security provisions that would kickstart 
building the wall at the southern border with Mexico, among other measures. 
Additionally, the package would have set up a bipartisan debt commission to 
address the nation's mounting debt load.

   As soon as the floor debate began, McCarthy's chief Republican critic, Rep. 
Matt Gaetz of Florida, announced he would vote against the package, urging his 
colleagues to "not surrender."

   Gaetz said afterward that the speaker's bill "went down in flames as I've 
told you all week it would."

   He and others rejecting the temporary measure want the House to keep pushing 
through the 12 individual spending bills needed to fund the government, 
typically a weeks-long process, as they pursue their conservative priorities.

   Republicans leaders announced later Friday that the House would stay in 
session next week, rather than return home, to keep working on some of the 12 
spending bills.

   Some of the Republican holdouts, including Gaetz, are allies of former 
President Donald Trump, who is Biden's chief rival in the 2024 race. Trump has 
been encouraging the Republicans to fight hard for their priorities and even to 
"shut it down."

   The hard right, led by Gaetz, has been threatening McCarthy's ouster, with a 
looming vote to try to remove him from the speaker's office unless he meets the 
conservative demands. Still, it's unclear if any other Republican would have 
support from the House majority to lead the party.

   Late Friday, Trump turned his ire to McConnell on social media, complaining 
the Republican leader and other GOP senators are "weak and ineffective" and 
making compromises with Democrats. He urged them, "Don't do it!"

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