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Hobbs: Arizona will use lottery funds to keep Grand Canyon open in government shutdown

Arizona’s governor vowed Wednesday to use an executive order to keep the Grand Canyon open if the U.S. government shuts down. 

Gov. Katie Hobbs said Arizona would use the state’s lottery money to keep the national park open. She added that the Grand Canyon is critical to the state’s economy and that it shouldn’t be affected by political gridlock.

Her announcement came after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he wasn’t giving up trying to pass a temporary funding bill through the House. 

In 2019, Arizona spent a little over $193,000 to keep the Grand Canyon open under then-Gov. Doug Ducey. 

U.S. House struggles to pass funding bill and avert shutdown

But lawmakers watching and waiting for the beleaguered leader to deliver are looking at other options.

The Republican speaker insisted as he arrived at the Capitol for  another grueling day of negotiations that he still had time to win over hard-line conservatives and keep the government funded before money runs out before the end of the month.

“It’s not September 30 — the game is not over,” McCarthy told reporters.

But even if McCarthy is able to accomplish  the seemingly impossible and unite his all-but-ungovernable House Republican majority around a conservative spending plan, the victory would be short-lived. The hard-right bill, with steep 8% cuts to many services, would be rejected by the Senate, where Democrats are in control but even Republicans reject the House GOP's severe reductions.

Across the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., opened the chamber trying to push ahead with a bipartisan plan.

The Senate held a test vote on Wednesday to try to overcome its own hard-right flank of GOP senators, but it also failed. Schumer was trying to advance consideration of a popular bipartisan package of defense and military appropriations bills. But the GOP senators are joining House Republicans in fighting for steeper reductions.

"It’s yet another reminder that in both houses, a small group of hard-right Republicans are dead set to grind the gears of government to a halt," Schumer said.

McCarthy has suffered  a series of setbacks this week to his plan to advance Republicans' spending plans, testing his grip on power  amid calls for his ouster.

In defiance of the speaker, a group of five GOP lawmakers from the right-wing House Freedom Caucus joined with Democrats to prevent consideration Tuesday of a usually popular defense bill. The bill would provide pay raises for the troops and other measures, but Republicans want a broader discussion on spending cuts in non-defense-related budgets.

The House floor is essentially at a standstill, with no business related to the looming government shutdown being conducted, as McCarthy, of California, tries to regroup.

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Fronteras Desk senior editor Michel Marizco is an award-winning investigative reporter based in Flagstaff.