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House Republicans failed to agree on a spending plan, bringing a shutdown closer

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A looming U.S. government shutdown looms closer. House Republicans this week failed to get an agreement within their own party on a temporary spending plan. And then they went home for the weekend. When they return, they'll have only a few days to avoid a government shutdown. NPR's congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales joins us. Claudia, thanks so much for being with us.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Thanks for having me, Scott.

SIMON: This wasn't a bipartisan divide. This is House Republicans who couldn't reach agreement among themselves, right? Where are they stuck?

GRISALES: Right. In a number of places. They had a lot of arguments over the past week about trying to put forward the most conservative proposal possible to keep the government open just temporarily, just a few more weeks past this approaching deadline. Yet they were breaking down over top-line numbers, over whether to provide additional aid for Ukraine or for public disasters anywhere ranging from Hawaii to Vermont.

They did start off the week on a positive note. There was lots of optimism for a bill that was being pushed by House Republican leaders. It was put together by two factions in the House - the Main Street Caucus, which were more moderate Republicans and the House Freedom Caucus members there who are more along the hard-liners' direction. But yet, too many members in the party were opposed. It was clear by Thursday they were breaking down and could not agree on anything. And we can't forget that Republicans hold a very slim majority in the House, and they cannot lose much support.

SIMON: Republicans do keep talking about passing all 12 of the regular spending bills. But is there enough time even for that?

GRISALES: No. And a House Republican-led committee met yesterday to try and hammer out these annual spending bills, but they won't be ready until many, many weeks from now, maybe months. And so that's going to miss that October 1 deadline, when we could see a shutdown set in, if not even a temporary funding bill is passed by then. So those bills are partisan as well as this stopgap funding bill that was proposed earlier this week. And so they are dead on arrival in the Democratic-led Senate.

SIMON: Claudia, what does this mean for the coming week?

GRISALES: Well, it's a very high-stakes week. Basically, there are some folks who are hoping for some sort of a Hail Mary move that could get some sort of plan through both the House and the Senate. But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has previously promised to his members at the beginning of this year that he would give them 72 hours - that's three days - in what's left in the remainder of this coming week to hammer out a deal for a temporary funding bill, to review a bill before they vote. And this is McCarthy is facing round three of a showdown with his own members. The first was when he took the speaker's gavel. That was a big fight with his own - members of his own conference. And then the second was a debt limit fight, which really weakened his position significantly.

SIMON: And it raises the question, does he have much of a future?

GRISALES: He is facing more vocal calls to be ousted. It's possible we could see more momentum there from his opponents for him to step down. But this is all tied to the politics of a shutdown as well.

SIMON: Can the Senate try and speed things up to avoid a government shutdown?

GRISALES: They could try to send over their own plan to the House. But House Republican leaders would have to reassess their position on trying to push a partisan-only bill and reconsider a bipartisan path instead. But that's a very tall order.

SIMON: NPR's Claudia Grisales. Thanks so much for being with us.

GRISALES: Thank you for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF DESSA SONG, "MINESHAFT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.