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Top House Republican McCarthy to test narrow majority in shutdown fight By Reuters

Top House Republican McCarthy to test narrow majority in shutdown fight

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) addresses the 5th annual Congressional Hackathon on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 14, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy plunged forward on Monday into the biggest challenge of his eight months as the top Republican in Congress as he tries to avoid a government shutdown in less than two weeks without losing his speakership.

The Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-led Senate have until Sept. 30 to avoid the fourth partial government shutdown in a decade by passing spending legislation that President Joe Biden can sign into law to keep federal agencies afloat.

Republicans hold a 221-212 majority in the House that leaves McCarthy with little room to maneuver as he contends with opposition to the spending legislation from a small group of hardline conservatives. McCarthy told reporters he would bring two spending bills to the House floor for consideration this week, including a short-term stopgap measure, to see if they can pass.

“I will continue to fight all the way through,” said McCarthy, saying that a government shutdown would undermine U.S. security abroad and at the border with Mexico.

“We should show the American public our ideas and be able to pass them,” McCarthy added. “We’re going to be rational, responsible and reasonable.”

Political brinkmanship has begun to attract the attention of Wall Street, with rating agency Fitch citing repeated down-to-the-wire negotiations that threaten the government’s ability to pay its bills when it downgraded U.S. debt rating to AA+ from its top-notch AAA designation earlier this year.

The log-jams are not limited to the House, as one hardline Senate Republican holdout, Tommy Tuberville, has blocked confirmation of hundreds of senior military officers due to his opposition to policies facilitating abortion access for female service members.

McCarthy has vowed to move forward this week on an $886 billion fiscal 2024 defense appropriations bill, which stalled last week as hardliners withheld support to demand a top line fiscal 2024 spending level of $1.47 trillion – $120 billion less than what McCarthy and Biden agreed to in May.

That vote is expected on Wednesday. McCarthy said he will bring a stopgap measure – known as a “continuing resolution,” or CR – to the floor on Thursday. McCarthy can afford to lose no more than four…

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