Washington, Sept 30 (The Street Press) – On Saturday, lawmakers come back to Congress, but they don’t have a clear plan to fix a big argument. This argument might shut down many parts of the government, like national parks and financial rules, in less than 18 hours.
Disagreements among the Republicans who are in charge of the House of Representatives have brought the United States very close to its fourth partial government shutdown in ten years. This happened because they couldn’t agree on a law to keep the government running after the start of the fiscal year on October 1.
Over in the Senate, where the Democrats are in control, they plan to move forward with a temporary funding bill. However, it might take a few days before they can finalize and vote on it.
If both the House and Senate don’t send a spending bill to President Joe Biden for him to sign into law by 12:01 a.m. (0401 GMT) on Sunday, hundreds of thousands of federal employees won’t have the money they need to do their jobs.
Government agencies have already made detailed plans. Some essential services, like airport security and border patrols, will keep running, but others, like scientific research and nutrition aid for 7 million low-income mothers, will be affected and might shut down.
Almost all of the government’s 4 million employees, whether they were on duty or not, wouldn’t receive their pay.
In Atlanta, they even shifted celebrations for former President Jimmy Carter’s 99th birthday from Sunday to Saturday to prevent any problems, as reported by local media.
This situation follows closely after a recent incident when Congress nearly pushed the federal government to the edge of defaulting on its massive $31.4 trillion debt. This ongoing drama has caused concerns on Wall Street, with Moody’s ratings agency warning that it could harm the United States’ creditworthiness.
Usually, Congress uses short-term spending bills to give themselves more time to work out the specifics of how federal programs will be funded.
However, this year, a group of Republicans in the House has been blocking these efforts. They want to make immigration policies stricter and reduce spending to levels that were agreed upon during the debt-ceiling standoff earlier in the year.
On Friday, 21 Republicans teamed up with Democrats to reject a bill that followed those demands. They believe that the House should concentrate on passing detailed spending bills for the entire fiscal year, even if it means a potential shutdown in the short run.
The decision to vote against the bill by those 21 Republicans has upset their fellow party members who believe it was a chance to push forward conservative policies.
Representative Nicole Malliotakis from New York expressed this frustration on Friday, saying, “There’s a lot of frustration growing with the 21 individuals who chose to vote ‘no’ on what was a very good plan”.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is considering seeking Democratic support to pass a temporary funding bill that maintains current funding levels, but this move might face resistance from hardline conservatives within his own party. He hasn’t provided specific details about this approach yet.
The Senate is set to have a procedural vote at 1:00 p.m. (1700 GMT) to extend government funding until November 17. This proposal has substantial backing from both Republicans and Democrats. However, due to the Senate’s procedural obstacles, the final vote might not occur until Tuesday.
Even if this extension passes, both the House and Senate need to reconcile their differences before sending the bill to President Biden’s desk. This step could be challenging, especially since House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has expressed opposition to the $6 billion in Ukraine aid included in the Senate bill.
McCarthy mentioned on Friday, “We continue to try to find a way out of this,” indicating ongoing efforts to resolve the situation.