With just five days left until the government shutdown, the House and Senate are on a collision course.
The Senate is working to negotiate a bipartisan recess measure, but there is no guarantee the measure will pass in the House, where a caucus of conservatives continues to oppose the prospect of a short-term funding extension. With Congress racing against the clock and still no consensus on a plan to avert a government shutdown, lawmakers are beginning to feel the inevitability that federal funds will expire at the end of the week.
The legislative text of the Senate recess bill has not yet been officially released, but it could be released as early as Tuesday. But on Tuesday morning, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy remained tight-lipped on whether he would implement an early shutdown passed by the Senate to avoid a shutdown of Congress this week.
McCarthy repeatedly dodged the question, calling it a hypothesis. I’m not going to assume that one day the Senate will do something and come back to me when they do something,” he insisted.
Senate leaders are working on a 45-day proposal that may not include much of the White House’s $24 billion funding request for Ukraine, given time pressures to avert a government shutdown. Late. Rand Paul, R-Ky., threatened to block the bill if it included funding for Ukraine. Once the Senate has introduced its stopgap measure, it still needs House approval to send it to the House, and any senator can block passage within strict time limits.
McCarthy faces House leadership test
Meanwhile, McCarthy turned his attention earlier this week to trying to advance several bills, including bills for the defense and homeland security departments, that lacked the Republican votes to pass the bill. Passing the bills won’t prevent a government shutdown this weekend, but as conservatives scramble to pass a full-year appropriations bill, McCarthy has hoped the momentum from the measures could garner enough pushback to support a Republican shutdown bill. However, it is unclear whether the bills can move forward given the deep divisions in the Republican Conference.
is expected to face another test of his leadership on Tuesday, when House Republican leadership says it plans to hold procedural votes on rules to implement the measures. The expected vote comes after hardliners failed in a similar vote on a defense bill last week, embarrassing House Republican leaders. All eyes will be on the House of Representatives to see if such a scene repeats itself.
On Tuesday, McCarthy once again lashed out at hard-liners who opposed the party last week and did not support the procedural motion. Asked if he was confident they would run this week, he criticized their efforts as counterproductive. “I don’t see why anyone would block the ability to secure the border, and if they want to side with President Biden in keeping the border open, I think that’s the wrong position to take.”
McCarthy said he would pursue a measure that would include the border rules if the House can pass several spending bills it is considering this week. “If we complete the next four tasks, they will represent 72% of all discretionary spending. I will also introduce a continuing resolution this week to secure our border,” he told reporters. McCarthy still insists that a government shutdown is the worst option and warned his conference about the dangers of that strategy. “I don’t think the shutdown will help,” he said. The Senate will hold an initial vote Tuesday night on a procedure to craft a House-approved FAA reauthorization bill that could serve as a legislative vehicle for a Senate version of a temporary bill to avert the shutdown.
With the FAA’s current operating authority set to expire at the end of September, a temporary funding extension could be added to the FAA bill, creating another looming deadline for lawmakers to act. The shutdown will have significant ramifications across the country. If that happens, many government operations will be suspended, but some services deemed “essential” will continue. Public operations and services that will continue during the closure are those deemed necessary to protect public safety and national security or otherwise deemed critical. Examples of services that continued during previous shutdowns include Border Patrol, federal law enforcement, and air traffic control. The White House on Tuesday highlighted the “devastating impact” of a government shutdown that would threaten national security, saying 1.3 million active-duty troops would not be paid until the shutdown ends and Defense Department civilian employees are furloughed.