The Senate will reconvene on Saturday to advance a bipartisan proposal to extend federal funding, with less than 24 hours left to prevent a government shutdown.
The Senate is scheduled to hold a vote at 1pm ET on the stopgap spending bill, which would keep the government open until 17 November and provide some funding for Ukraine’s war efforts as well as disaster relief aid. Unless both chambers of Congress can pass a stopgap bill, known as a continuing resolution, before midnight, the government will shut down.
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CNN reported on Saturday morning that the House GOP would be meeting “behind closed doors at 9.30am ET” to plan, per a source familiar with the plans.
Even if the Senate advances the bill, the chamber probably will not be able to move to a final vote until Sunday, due to procedural hurdles. If the bill does ultimately pass the Senate, it faces little chance of success in the Republican-controlled House, where hard-right members have denounced the bipartisan measure over its funding for Ukraine and its lack of severe spending cuts.
With those weighty challenges ahead, a shutdown seemed increasingly likely on Saturday.
The Senate vote comes one day after the House failed to pass McCarthy’s own stopgap bill, which would have extended government funding for another month while enacting steep spending cuts on most federal agencies.
McCarthy’s proposal was rejected by 21 House Republicans, as hard-right members continue to insist they will not support a continuing resolution. After the vote failed, House Republicans leader said the chamber would take more votes on Saturday, but their strategy to avoid a shutdown remains unclear.
Ahead of the rare weekend session, the Democratic Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, called on the Republican House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, to embrace bipartisanship to keep the government open.
“The speaker has spent weeks catering to the hard right, and now he finds himself in the exact same position he’s been in since the beginning: no plan forward, no closer to passing something that avoids a shutdown,” Schumer said on Friday. “The speaker needs to abandon his doomed mission of trying to please [“Make America Great Again”] extremists, and instead, he needs to work across the aisle to keep the government open.”
The blockade staged by hard-right lawmakers has sparked frustration among more moderate members of their conference, and even the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, has urged his party to move forward.
“All this week, and every time we’ve found ourselves in this situation before, I’ve offered my colleagues the same warning: shutting down the government doesn’t help anybody politically,” McConnell said on Friday. “Congress has an opportunity right now: to pay our servicemembers, border security personnel, and other essential workers, to keep important government functions running.”
As lawmakers remained at an impasse, the federal government was bracing for the first shutdown in nearly five years. The White House has warned that a shutdown will force hundreds of thousands of government workers to go without pay, jeopardize access to vital nutritional programs and delay disaster relief projects.
“Extreme House Republicans are solely – solely – to blame for marching us toward a shutdown. That is what we’re seeing right now,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said on Friday.
Unless a breakthrough happens on Saturday, a shutdown now appears all but certain.