US House Republican leaders postpone appropriations vote

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US House Republican leaders postpone appropriations vote © Reuters. The U.S. Capitol dome is seen as members of the House Freedom Caucus and others hold a press conference regarding federal government spending on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 12, 2023. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday postponed a vote to begin debate on a defense appropriations bill, casting doubt on the chamber’s ability to pass its remaining government funding bills ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline.

THE TAKE

The postponement may be a sign that Republicans, who hold a narrow 222-212 majority, are not confident they have the votes to pass the measure, as party hardliners push back against Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Dissent within the Republican caucus raises the risk that the U.S. government could face a fourth partial shutdown in a decade.

CONTEXT

* The House has so far passed only one of 12 appropriations bills ahead of Sept. 30. Without the funding, the government will begin a partial shutdown.

* The potential shutdown adds to Wall Street’s worries heading into the end of the year. Fitch Ratings earlier this year cited repeated shutdowns as a factor in its decision to cut the federal government’s credit rating.

* The White House has asked Congress to pass a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open, but some Republicans have balked at the request.

* The Senate is moving ahead with its own bipartisan appropriations bill, which would maintain the spending levels hammered out by President Joe Biden and McCarthy.

WHAT’S NEXT

McCarthy and his leadership team are expected to continue closed-door meetings to try to garner enough support to bring the bill to the floor.

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