In the USA, a shutdown of government business is likely imminent. A so-called shutdown can no longer be averted – the deadline expires on Sunday night. Negotiations in Congress on Friday were unsuccessful.

The focus is on the fragmented Republicans who are unable to agree on a new federal budget. The Republican leader of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, is being driven ahead of him – and exposed – by the radicals in his party.

Time is running out

The term of the budget approved by the US Congress at the end of last year ends at the end of this month. A new federal budget would have to be approved by the end of September in order to avert insolvency. However, this will probably no longer be possible in the short time that remains.

The political wrangling repeats itself every year – usually Congress makes do with passing an interim budget and then fights again in a few months over the financing of government operations. But that is unlikely to happen in time either.

McCarthy’s weakness becomes clear

The Republicans only have a very narrow majority in the House of Representatives and the group is very fragmented. On Friday, McCarthy tried to advance a bill that would provide significant savings. This failed because of the radicals in his party – McCarthy was duped.

The draft did not go far enough for the right-wing extremists in his group. It was the most conservative position the party could have taken, MP Dan Crenshaw complained with regard to the draft. And yet the design failed. The dispute exposes McCarthy’s weakness and shows how chaotic the Republicans in the House of Representatives operate.

Fight for political survival

For McCarthy, the budget dispute could once again be about everything. The Republican only came into office at the beginning of the year after 15 rounds of voting because parts of his party refused to support him. McCarthy ultimately made major concessions to the radicals in his caucus. But they doubt him again and more or less openly threaten to try to drive him out of office.

The now failed draft had no chance in the Senate, where US President Joe Biden’s Democrats have a majority. For McCarthy, Friday’s events were still a serious defeat. McCarthy suggested on Friday evening that they would work on a compromise for interim funding and made it clear that it should not include aid to Ukraine.

Serious consequences

A shutdown means millions of government employees will no longer receive a salary. Many ministries and authorities have emergency plans for this eventuality. So most military personnel continue to work – but for the time being without pay. How severe a shutdown affects everyday life and the economy in the USA depends on its length.

It may well be that Congress, under pressure, will find a solution quickly after the deadline has passed. The longest “shutdown” in the country’s history occurred at the turn of the year 2018/2019. Because of the dispute over the wall with Mexico called for by then President Donald Trump, parts of the government in the USA were at a standstill for over five weeks.

Biden’s government has been warning about the consequences for days

The White House blames the Republicans for the chaos and warns urgently about the consequences. “I’m telling you that the guy who picks up the trash in my office doesn’t get a paycheck. That’s the reality. And that’s what makes me angry,” said Shalanda Young, a U.S. government employee. US President Biden has so far largely stayed out of the negotiations. He is betting that the Republicans will be held responsible by the people of the country for a possible shutdown.