“A government shutdown could impact everything from food safety to cancer research to Head Start programs for children. Funding the government is one of the most basic responsibilities of Congress. It’s time for Republicans to start doing the job America elected them to do.” — President Biden
Congress returns to Washington Tuesday with a government shutdown less than five days away and lawmakers are still scrambling for ways to avoid it.
That wasn’t supposed to be the case.
It has been less than three months since House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reached an agreement with President Biden that set spending levels for the year. That agreement was part of a bipartisan debt limit package that overwhelmingly passed the House in a 343-117 vote. Ultimately, under pressure from a small group of hard line “Republicans,” McCarthy backpedaled and the bipartisan spending bill did not pass.
Details of a possible Senate-led spending stopgap began to emerge Monday night as Senate leaders worked on a bill. Any Senate-led solution would require unanimous agreement to move fast enough to avoid a shutdown, and even then, a deal would almost certainly require votes from House Democrats in order to pass
Even if the Senate is able to move quickly on a stopgap, it’s unclear if McCarthy would allow a Senate plan to get a vote. Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz has threatened to begin the formal process to remove McCarthy as speaker if he does not comply with far-right demands.
McCarthy is also under pressure from former President Trump, who has pushed for spending cuts. Trump is in close contact with some of the GOP holdouts in the House and has posted publicly in favor of cuts.
It’s unclear if the Senate could muster enough bipartisan support for the plan if it includes additional aid for Ukraine or several, recent U.S. public disasters, including the deadly fires in Maui, a key objective for Democrats