By David Morgan and Makini Brice
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a stopgap funding bill, Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Saturday, just hours before the federal government is due to begin its fourth partial shutdown in a decade.
The move will test McCarthy’s narrow 221-212 majority, where multiple hardline conservatives have opposed the idea of a short-term bill known as a continuing resolution or CR, and could lead to a challenge to McCarthy’s position as speaker.
The maneuver will require Democratic votes, a fact that will anger some party hardliners who had wanted to pass a bill without Democratic support.
Even if the House passes the bill, there may not be enough time for the Democratic-majority Senate to vote on the measure and President Joe Biden sign it into law before funding expires at 12:01 a.m. ET (0401 GMT) Sunday.
House Republican lawmakers just Friday had blocked their own CR, which included multiple conservative policy additions that Democrats opposed. Those measures will not factor in the new bill, which would extend funding for 45 days.
“I want to keep government open while we finish our job,” McCarthy told reporters following a closed-door party meeting.
The Democratic-majority Senate planned another procedural vote Saturday on a stopgap bill to fund the government through Nov. 17, which has been moving forward with broad bipartisan support, which the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has rejected so far.
Infighting among Republicans who control the House by a 221-212 margin has pushed the United States to the brink of its fourth partial shutdown in a decade, as the chamber has been unable to pass legislation that would keep the government open beyond the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year.
Federal agencies have already drawn up detailed plans that spell out what services must continue, like airport screening and border patrols, and what must shut down, like scientific research and nutrition aid to 7 million poor mothers.
Most of the government’s 4 million-plus employees would not get paid, whether they were working or not.
The standoff comes just months after Congress brought the federal government to the brink of defaulting on its $31.4 trillion debt. The drama has raised worries on Wall Street, where the Moody’s ratings agency has warned it could damage U.S. creditworthiness.
Congress typically passes stopgap spending bills to buy more time to negotiate the detailed legislation that sets funding for federal programs.
This year, a group of Republicans has blocked action in the House as they have pressed to tighten immigration and cut spending below levels agreed to in the debt-ceiling standoff last spring.
On Friday, 21 Republicans joined with Democrats to defeat legislation that reflected those demands, saying the chamber should focus instead on passing detailed spending bills for the full fiscal year, even if it leads to a shutdown in the near term.
That angered other Republicans, who said they had blown an opportunity to advance conservative policies.
“There’s a lot of frustration growing with the 21 individuals who chose to vote ‘no’ on what was a very good plan,” Republican Representative Nicole Malliotakis of New York said on Friday.
(Reporting by David Morgan and Makini Brice, Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Scott Malone and Andrea Ricci)
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