On Saturday, lawmakers will return to Capitol Hill with no clear path to resolving a dispute that threatens to shut down significant portions of the federal government in less than 18 hours, including national parks and financial regulation. Infighting among Republicans in the House of Representatives has driven the country to the verge of its fourth partial government shutdown in a decade, as the chamber has been unable to enact legislation to keep the government open beyond the fiscal year’s start date of Oct. 1..
On the opposite side of the Capitol, the Democratic-controlled Senate is anticipated to approve a stopgap funding plan, though a final vote could be delayed for several days.
Hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be unable to perform their duties if the two houses do not transmit a funding bill to Democratic President Joe Biden by 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday.
Federal agencies have already developed comprehensive plans delineating which services must be maintained, such as airport screening and border patrols, and which must be eliminated, such as scientific research and nutrition assistance for 7 million low-income mothers.
The preponderance of the government’s 4 million-plus employees would not be compensated, regardless of whether they worked or not. According to local media, festivities honoring the 99th birthday of former President Jimmy Carter were moved from Sunday to Saturday to avoid disruptions.
The impasse occurs just months after Congress compelled the federal government to default on its $31.4 trillion in debt. The drama has caused concern on Wall Street, with Moody’s expressing concern that it could impair the creditworthiness of the United States.
Congress frequently passes stopgap spending measures to buy more time to negotiate detailed legislation establishing funding for federal programs.
This year, a number of House Republicans have obstructed efforts to restrict immigration and reduce spending below the levels agreed to during the debt-ceiling standoff last spring.
Friday, 21 Republicans joined Democrats in opposing legislation representing these requests, arguing that the chamber should instead concentrate on passing specific budget bills for the entire fiscal year, even if it means a temporary shutdown.
Other Republicans were outraged, alleging that they had squandered a chance to advance conservative values. Representative Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican from New York, stated on Friday, “There is growing frustration with the 21 individuals who voted ‘no’ on what was an excellent plan.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy stated that despite the possibility of hardliners challenging his leadership, the chamber may attempt to rely on Democrats to help pass a stopgap package that would keep funding at current levels. He did not provide any additional information.
The Senate will hold a procedural vote at 1:00 p.m. ET to extend government funding through November 17. It has bipartisan support, but a vote on its ultimate passage could be delayed until Tuesday due to the chamber’s numerous obstacles.
Even if it passes, the two houses must reconcile their differences prior to submitting any legislation to the desk of Vice President Biden. McCarthy’s opposition to the $6 billion in Ukraine aid in the Senate bill could be a further obstacle. Friday he added, “We will continue to try to find a way out of this.”