Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, said Wednesday that he and Speaker Kevin McCarthy had agreed that a bill to temporarily fund the government is necessary in order to stave off the possibility of an impending government shutdown on Oct. 1 and keep the government funded through early December.
But his comments were also an acknowledgment that Congress remains far from reaching any agreement on spending levels that would keep the government running on a longer-term basis.
“Speaker McCarthy and I met a few weeks back, and we agreed we should do what’s called a C.R. — in other words, a congressional resolution where you just extend the existing funding for a few months so we could work this out,” Mr. Schumer said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
He was referring to a temporary spending measure, which would give lawmakers more time to finalize a deal on 12 appropriations bills that still need to be passed to fund the government and avoid a shutdown altogether. The bills cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee last month on a bipartisan basis, in one of the smoothest processes in recent years. “We urge our House colleagues to emulate the Senate,” Mr. Schumer said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. “The only way we’re going to avoid a government shutdown is by bipartisan support in both Houses.”
Appearing on television as part of a planned victory lap to mark the one-year anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden’s major climate and energy legislation, Mr. Schumer called his discussion with Mr. McCarthy “a good sign.”
“The hard right wants to shut down the government,” Mr. Schumer said. “But, McCarthy, I think, knows that that would be a disaster, not only for the country but for his party, because it’s clear which side wants to shut down the government and who is doing it.”
Passing the appropriation bills in the deeply divided House will be a difficult task for lawmakers to take up in the fall. House Republicans left Washington for their six-week summer break after abandoning efforts to pass a spending bill to fund the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration, hamstrung by internal divisions over spending and social issues.
House Democrats are livid that Republicans are setting spending levels far below what President Biden and Mr. McCarthy agreed to in their deal to suspend the federal debt limit. In response, they are opposing all the spending bills, leaving Mr. McCarthy with just four Republican votes to spare if all members are present and voting.
When Congress returns in September, the House will have just weeks to pass the spending bills, or a temporary patch — like the stopgap measure — to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1, the beginning of the government’s new fiscal year.
Members of the hard-right Freedom Caucus said in July that they would not support a stopgap funding bill to keep the government running in the fall. “We should not fear a government shutdown,” Representative Bob Good, Republican of Virginia, said at a news conference last month. But it remains to be seen whether members of the Freedom Caucus would move to block a stopgap funding measure from coming to the floor at all.
Some Trump loyalists in the House, like Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, are raising another potential obstacle, claiming they would try to cut funding for the special counsel Jack Smith and law enforcement agencies as a way of seeking justice for former President Donald J. Trump, who is facing multiple indictments by the Justice Department.
In a call with members earlier this week, Mr. McCarthy warned his conference to expect a vote on a stopgap funding bill when they return to Washington, a move he said was designed to give appropriators more time to get their work done, according to a person familiar with the call. Mr. McCarthy also told members he wanted to establish a “strong conservative House position” on spending bills and avoid a long-term stopgap funding measure, which would not include Republican spending priorities.
Before leaving for the August break, Mr. McCarthy met with all leaders individually, including Mr. Schumer, to discuss a path forward on the bills that need to be passed before the end of the year, including the defense bill and the farm bill.
Some more moderate Republican members were still warning of an impending government shutdown, even after the call on Monday night with Mr. McCarthy, and sought to place the blame on everyone involved.
“It’s clear President Biden and Speaker McCarthy want a government shutdown, so that’s what Congress will do after we return in September,” Representative Tony Gonzales, Republican of Texas, posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, after the call. “Everyone should plan accordingly.”
An earlier version of this article misstated when Senator Chuck Schumer held a call with reporters. It was on Tuesday, not Monday.
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Annie Karni is a congressional correspondent. She was previously a White House correspondent. Before joining The Times, she covered the White House and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign for Politico, and spent a decade covering local politics for the New York Post and the New York Daily News. More about Annie Karni
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