Republicans who control the U.S. House of Representatives failed to advance two spending bills on Tuesday, as party infighting threatened the ability of Congress to fund the government and avert a partial shutdown at the end of the month.
The House voted 214-212 to defeat a measure that would have opened debate on an $886 billion fiscal 2024 defense appropriations bill, with five hardline Republican conservatives joining Democrats to oppose their party’s own measure.
Meanwhile, a larger division within House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s fractious Republican majority prevented lawmakers from agreeing on a short-term measure to keep federal agencies afloat after funding expires on Sept. 30.
McCarthy has been unable to win cooperation from hardliners who want assurances that fiscal 2024 appropriations will not exceed a 2022 top line of $1.47 trillion – $120 billion less than McCarthy and Democratic President Joe Biden agreed to in May.
The House and the Democratic-led Senate have less than two weeks to avoid a shutdown by passing either short-term or long-term funding measures.
Even if House Republicans had been able to advance the defense bill or the short-term measure, either would face stiff opposition from congressional Democrats and from the White House, which has already threatened to veto the defense bill.