December 10, 2023

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress faces a midnight Sept. 30 deadline for passing some sort of temporary funding bill or triggering partial federal government shutdowns beginning on Oct. 1, the start of a new fiscal year.

Here are a few ways Congress might avoid a shutdown:


House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy could find the sweet spot for a one-month funding deal that his Republicans would embrace.

Passage by the Republican-controlled House, where appropriations bills normally originate, would send the stopgap measure to the Democratic-led Senate. It likely would arrive with a tough border-control measure attached, which Democrats oppose.

President Joe Biden wants his own temporary border security plan enacted instead. So, once the bill arrives in the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would be likely to replace the House border security language with Biden’s.

Once the Senate passed its temporary spending bill, the House could vote to accept the Senate changes – possibly hours or minutes before the midnight Sept. 30 deadline. Or the House could reject the proposal, triggering a shutdown.


If the House appeared unable to produce any sort of government-funding bill by Sept. 30, the Senate could take matters into its own hands.

In this scenario, Schumer would take the “shell” of an already-passed House bill, remove its current language and replace it with a new temporary funding bill, which is known as a continuing resolution, or CR.

That would get around a constitutional requirement that revenue-related bills must originate in that chamber.

The Senate in this scenario would likely act close – but not too close – to the midnight Sept. 30 deadline so that it can pass such a CR and send it to the House with little time to spare. It’s a move known as “jamming” the other chamber.


Unable to get enough far-right conservative Republicans on board, McCarthy could take a big political gamble and send a bill to the House floor that would need Democratic votes to pass. This would anger some House Republicans and possibly prompt them to launch an effort to strip him of his speakership, potentially plunging the Congress into an even deeper crisis.


Various moderate-to-centrist lawmakers have been huddling privately to see if they can come up with plans to break the House deadlock.

For example, the “Problem Solvers Caucus” has been mulling a framework that would extend current government funding into 2024 and attach disaster aid, Ukraine aid and some sort of border security measure, according to a House member familiar with the caucus’ work.


Members of the House can circulate a “discharge petition” to dislodge legislation from a committee and send it to the full House for a prompt vote.

There are difficult and often time-consuming procedural hurdles that would have to be cleared and the majority party in the House – Republicans currently – is often loathe to buck their leadership by joining the minority party in a revolt.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Scott Malone and Marguerita Choy)

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