Congressional leaders are racing against the clock to reach a funding deal and prevent a government shutdown that would have severe economic consequences for American families. If Congress fails to act, the government will close at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, resulting in halted paychecks for federal workers and servicemembers, closure of federal parks and monuments, and disruption of food and education programs for low-income children. Despite a possible shutdown seeming inevitable at this point, Speaker Kevin McCarthy is not giving up and is proposing a “clean” short-term funding bill without the Senate’s desired Ukraine aid to buy more time for Republicans to pass individual appropriations bills. However, there is little consensus among House Republicans, and it remains uncertain if such a bill would be accepted by Democrats or if McCarthy can rally support.
With the House in disarray, the Senate, controlled by Democrats, continues to move forward with its own bipartisan plan to avert a shutdown. Their proposal is a six-week funding bill that includes economic and military aid for Ukraine as well as disaster aid at home. The bill has already cleared a procedural hurdle with a bipartisan vote, but it is unlikely that the Senate will complete work on the bill before the shutdown deadline. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has urged McCarthy to get on board with the Senate’s strategy, emphasizing the importance of bipartisanship to avoid detrimental consequences such as servicemembers going without pay and cuts to public health programs and nutrition for women, infants, and children. President Joe Biden and the White House have endorsed the Senate plan and called on House Republicans to support it, but McCarthy has been reluctant due to threats to his speakership and opposition from conservative hard-liners.
Biden, in an interview with ProPublica, criticized McCarthy for making a “terrible bargain” and prioritizing his speakership over constitutional processes. He expressed concern about a group of MAGA Republicans seeking fundamental changes to the system. As the deadline looms, the speaker plans to meet with House Republicans to chart a path forward, but the outcome remains uncertain, leaving the possibility of a government shutdown and its damaging consequences on the horizon.
In conclusion, congressional leaders are under immense pressure to strike a funding deal to avert a government shutdown with dire economic implications for American families. While McCarthy floats the idea of a short-term funding bill without Ukraine aid, divisions among House Republicans and Democratic acceptance of such a bill are uncertain. Meanwhile, the Senate continues to pursue its bipartisan plan, but it is unlikely to be completed before the shutdown deadline. President Biden and the White House support the Senate’s proposal but face resistance from McCarthy, who is wary of threats to his position and opposition from conservative hard-liners. The negotiations and outcome remain in flux, casting an ominous shadow on the possibility of a government shutdown and its detrimental effects.