Government shutdown nears as lawmakers remain split on funding

Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 2:24 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Lawmakers have just three days to avoid a government shutdown, and the many variables in play are creating unlimited uncertainty. The funding fight is proving to be a delicate, potentially career-defining dance.

Senate leaders agreed to a short-term solution, a continuing resolution (CR) that would keep the government funded for six weeks, send $6 billion to Ukraine and $6 billion to disaster relief.

“I don’t see the support in the House,” said Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

This bill is a nonstarter for some Republicans in the Senate and many Republicans in the House who are growing wary of supporting Ukraine.

McCarthy wants to pass his own CR with a border security bill attached, in hopes of attracting the more conservative elements of his party who do not want a short-term solution.

McCarthy’s proposal, however, is a nonstarter for Democrats and those hardliners, who have consistently said “NO CR.” In fact, if McCarthy agrees to work with Democrats on a stopgap bill to get enough votes, the GOP detractors are threatening to take away his Speakership with a motion to vacate, which brings his job up for a fresh vote.

“This House has been poorly led, and we own that, and we have to do something about it,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

But going through the regular appropriations process, passing 12 individual spending bills, takes time, which is a luxury lawmakers do not have after leaving their work to the last minute. Thus, the Senate moved ahead with its stopgap fix.

“This shows we can work together, even with our differences, for the betterment of our country. I hope the House follows suit,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

If a deal isn’t reached, the short-term impact is no pay for federal workers until the shutdown ends. In the long term, an impact on nutrition assistance programs, park maintenance, air travel, and more.

“Government shutdowns are bad news whichever way you look at them,” said senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kent.), who helped craft the Senate CR.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is pointing a finger at House Republicans who cannot come to an agreement among themselves much less with Democrats. But Republicans point the finger right back saying the president should be at the table, working to secure the border. As the blame game carries on, so does the ticking clock.