The top Democrat in the US House of Representatives, Hakeem Jeffries, has accused Republicans of sabotaging the country through an internal party “civil war.” “It is a civil war that is affecting Congress’ ability to manage the affairs of the American people and solve problems on behalf of ordinary Americans,” Jeffries said in Washington.

“House Republicans continue to be held hostage by the most extreme elements of their caucus, and that is hurting the American people,” Jeffries said. The situation is serious. In a few days there is a threat of a forced shutdown of government business due to the internal party fights over the budget.

Potentially far-reaching consequences

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 must be approved by the end of September in order to avert the government’s insolvency. However, this is complicated by internal party struggles among Republicans, who currently hold the majority in the House of Representatives.

In the event of a shutdown, there would no longer be any fresh money for the government of Democratic US President Joe Biden, whose party regularly engages in bitter disputes with the Republicans over budget issues. Then some state employees would have to be on forced leave or work temporarily without pay. Social benefits could also be temporarily suspended, for example for low-income families or former military employees.

Tugging is nothing new

Jeffries warned that a “shutdown” would harm seniors, children, families, veterans, public education and public safety. The country’s military readiness and the morale of federal employees would also be affected.

The political wrangling over the budget repeats itself every year – usually Congress makes do with passing an interim budget and then fights again a few months later over the financing of government operations. An agreement is usually only reached just before the deadline expires.

The situation is special this time because the Republicans only have a narrow majority in the US House of Representatives and the faction is very fragmented. The chairman of the parliamentary chamber, the Republican Kevin McCarthy, was only elected to office in the 15th ballot in January and is under great pressure from the radical right in his group. They oppose each other in the budget talks.