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McCarthy eyes a short-term funding bill to head off a shutdown

Speaker acknowledges clock running out on fiscal year that ends Sept. 30

Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., conducts a news conference in the Capitol on July 25.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., conducts a news conference in the Capitol on July 25. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans are planning to take up a short-term stopgap funding measure next month to avoid a partial government shutdown, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told members of his conference during a Monday night call, sources familiar with the conversation said. 

The continuing resolution is expected to extend current funding until early December, giving lawmakers a few extra months past the Sept. 30 deadline to complete fiscal 2024 appropriations. McCarthy said Monday that he did not want to have a continuing resolution run up to the Christmas recess, sources said. 

The speaker’s announcement, which came as little surprise, served as an acknowledgment that the clock had run out for completing appropriations on time for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

The House thus far has passed just one of its 12 annual appropriations bills, the Military Construction-VA measure, though McCarthy told members Monday he is still planning on taking up additional spending bills after the House returns from August recess on Sept. 12. 

[No sign of ‘debt limit 2.0’ talks as shutdown looms]

Before the recess, House leaders had to abandon plans to bring the Agriculture bill to the floor. Members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus called for deeper cuts than appropriators included and moderates opposed some conservative policy riders included in the bill.

Some House conservatives want spending to be pulled back to the fiscal 2022 topline level without tapping unspent money from previous laws to bolster overall spending; House appropriators used $115 billion in rescissions to lessen the effects of spending cuts. 

While a continuing resolution will now be necessary to keep the full government open, lawmakers have voiced growing skepticism that Congress will be able to pass it. 

“I just got off a member call — it’s clear President [Joe] Biden and Speaker McCarthy want a government shutdown, so that’s what Congress will do after we return in September,” Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, tweeted Monday. “Everyone should plan accordingly.” 

The Senate, which is writing its bills to the more generous spending caps set in a debt limit suspension law, advanced all 12 bills out of the Appropriations Committee in wide bipartisan votes before the recess. However, the two chambers remain far apart on spending levels. 

And talks could become more complicated now that Biden has asked for $40.1 billion in emergency supplemental spending for Ukraine aid, disaster relief, border security and more.

Some House Republicans have sought to prohibit additional aid for Ukraine, though most GOP lawmakers appear supportive.

Paul M. Krawzak contributed to this report.

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