At 00:00 hours on Sunday, October 1, The public administration will run out of fundswhich would lead to the closure of most government agencies, museums and national parks, while 1.3 million military personnel and hundreds of thousands of civil servants would no longer receive their salaries.
Furthermore, according to Goldman Sachs, the closure could affect the US economy, reducing gross domestic product (GDP) by between 0.15 and 0.2 percentage points for each week it lasts. Despite the serious consequences, it seems impossible to reach an agreement. These are the keys that explain why:
The rebellion of the pro-Trump wing
The main obstacle is the pro-Trump Republicanswho are grouped together under the so-called “Freedom Caucus” and who are challenging the president of the House of Representatives, Republican Kevin McCarthy, whom they consider too moderate.
Many members of the Freedom Caucus opposed naming McCarthy as House Republican majority leader in January and even set conditions for his appointment, including changing the rules so that any Republican can call a vote to dismiss him.
Furthermore, to be elected Republican majority leader, McCarthy pledged to reduce Administration spending. However, in June, when the US was on the verge of defaulting on its sovereign debt, McCarthy reached an agreement with Biden whereby Congress allowed the Executive to continue borrowing money for its debts, but in exchange for specific limits on government spending.
Pro-Trump lawmakers felt betrayed by that deal and are now calling for more cuts. Specifically, they seek to establish a public spending limit of $1.47 trillion for fiscal year 2024, which represents $120 billion more in cuts than agreed.
The Freedom Caucus can put that kind of pressure on McCarthy because Republicans have a very narrow majority in the House and the leadership needs the support of all of them to pass any measure.
McCarthy looks for other options
As a result, McCarthy finds himself in a compromising position. In recent months, he has made concessions to that hard wing of the party, for example opening an impeachment trial against Biden despite his initial reluctance. But nothing seems enough to satisfy this group.
This Friday, McCarthy tried unsuccessfully to pass a bill that would have funded the Administration for an additional month, until October 31, but that contained limits on asylum programs and cuts to all items except border security. .
Voting against this project were the Democrats who oppose these provisions on the border and the hard-line Republicans, who reject any measure to keep the Administration operational and follow the instructions of Trump, who this week urged them to resist and provoke the Government shutdown.
McCarthy, however, does not give up and is looking for other alternatives to finance the Executive.. “This is not over yet. I have other ideas,” he stated this Friday.
The Senate, at a snail’s pace
While McCarthy tries to unite the different factions of his party, the majority of Republican senators agree on the need to keep the Administration operational and have reached an agreement with the Democratic majority in that chamber to extend the funds for six weeks, until the 17th. of November.
The Senate bill has already passed a procedural vote, but its content cannot be put to a vote at least until Sunday, when the Administration would already be closed. The process has not been able to be expedited due to the blockage of Republican Senator Rand Paul, who opposes the project because it includes additional aid for Ukraine.
The White House: “A deal is a deal”
With the situation at a standstill, the White House has blamed any government shutdown on pro-Trump “extremists” and has urged McCarthy to put order in his ranks so that all Republicans accept the agreement he reached. in June with Biden. “We made a deal and a deal is a deal“White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre reaffirmed this Friday during a press conference.
According to Jean-Pierre, Biden has so far refused to meet with McCarthy, with whom he has not had contact for weeks. However, the president will remain in Washington this weekend instead of heading to his residence in Delaware, intending to closely monitor the situation.
jov (efe, reuters)