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Possible US Government Shutdown Looming Again

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to the media (File)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to the media (File)

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says lawmakers are at an impasse over how to keep the federal government funded past September 30, when current funding expires.

Reid spoke on Capitol Hill Thursday, a day after the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives defeated a bill that would have funded federal government operations past that date.

Reid, a Democrat, said he does not know what Republicans now plan to do and suggested they would be to blame if the government shuts down.

Leading House Republicans had called for passage of the temporary spending measure, which would have funded the government through November 18. They said the bill was in line with cuts to government spending agreed to by Congress and U.S. President Barack Obama in August to avert a default on the nation's debt.

But some Republican lawmakers - mostly supporters of the Tea Party movement - wanted deeper cuts than those agreed upon and joined in the vote to defeat the bill. Most Democrats voted against the temporary measure, angered by a provision that said federal funding for disaster relief must be offset by cuts in government spending elsewhere.
Lawmakers from both the House and Senate are scheduled to be in recess next week. If Congress does not pass a temporary spending bill by September 30, there will be a partial shutdown of the U.S. government.

Several Democrats who voted against the bill Wednesday listed a number of natural disasters that have affected the United States in recent weeks, including wildfires in Texas, a hurricane, and tropical storms that triggered widespread flooding along the U.S. East Coast.