WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top U.S. Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer on Friday said House Republicans would be to blame if lawmakers are unable to reach a deal to keep the government funded past Sept. 30, triggering the fourth partial shutdown of federal agencies in a decade.
"We cannot afford the brinkmanship or hostage-taking we saw from House Republicans earlier this year when they pushed our country to the brink of default to appease the most extreme members of their party," Schumer said in an open letter to colleagues on Friday.
"When the Senate returns next week, our focus will be on funding the government and preventing House Republican extremists from forcing a government shutdown."
The Senate returns to Washington on Tuesday with the House of Representatives coming a week later, leaving lawmakers little time to agree on a deal to keep the federal government funded past the months' end. Republicans say sharp cuts in spending are needed to stem the nation's growing $31.4 trillion national debt.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives, bending to the will of a small group of hardline conservatives, is pushing to cut discretionary spending to a fiscal 2022 level of $1.47 trillion, $120 billion less than top House Republican Kevin McCarthy and Democratic President Joe Biden agreed to earlier this year.
* The White House on Thursday urged Congress to hammer out a short-term funding measure called a "continuing resolution" to avoid a shutdown starting Oct. 1.
* There is disagreement within the House Republican caucus about the depth of the proposed cuts, with one moderate Republican likening them to a "root canal."
* Goldman Sachs analysts said earlier this month that they view a shutdown as "more likely than not."
(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Scott Malone and Daniel Wallis)