By: Orion Donovan Smith | The Spokesman-Review
As House Republicans struggled to overcome internal divisions and pass a short-term spending bill, Northwest lawmakers from both parties on Wednesday said a government shutdown appeared increasingly likely.
After striking a deal with Democrats in May to limit federal spending in exchange for raising the nation’s debt ceiling to avert economic disaster, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has bowed to pressure from far-right lawmakers to demand steeper budget cuts and conservative policy priorities. But with Democrats in control of the Senate and White House, refusing to compromise would mean the government running out of money at the end of September.
Rep. Russ Fulcher, who represents North Idaho, is part of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of right-wing lawmakers who have succeeded in pushing McCarthy to demand sharper spending cuts. While he is concerned about the impact a shutdown could have on people in his district, Fulcher said the nation’s $1.52 trillion deficit in the current fiscal year – which has pushed the national debt above $33 trillion – is “a worthy reason for an impasse.”
House Republicans have so far failed to overcome their own internal divisions and pass all but one of the 12 full-year appropriations bills, leaving a short-term spending bill as the only option to avert a shutdown. If they manage to pass a short-term measure, it would go to the Senate, where the Democratic majority opposes further spending cuts and the policy measures some Republicans want to include.
“The theory is if we start at a lower number, by the time we get it out of the Senate, we’re in a better negotiating position,” Fulcher said.
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