April 17, 2024

La Ronge Northerner

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If the government shuts down, what will it take to reopen?

If the government shuts down, what will it take to reopen?

The federal government is moving toward a shutdown at midnight Saturday. That’s because Congress has yet to pass any of the 12-year spending bills that fund the federal government, and remains locked in a stopgap measure to keep funding flowing while lawmakers pass annual spending bills.

Here’s what you need to know about how we got here:

Under the Constitution, Congress has the power to spend, and it exercises this power by passing legislation each year to fund the government. There are 12 appropriations bills, starting in October. 1, the beginning of the fiscal year, until midnight of the following September. 30.

This year, Congress failed to enact any of these measures, which must be approved by both the House and Senate and signed by the president. Without a stopgap measure to temporarily fund federal agencies while the two chambers debate legislation, resolve any differences between the bills and send the measures to President Biden, the government will shut down.

During negotiations in the spring to avoid a federal debt default, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden agreed to cap federal spending over the next two years. It also included an enforcement mechanism to ensure their agreement sticks, setting a requirement that Congress approve each spending bill individually, rather than combining them into the kind of massive, sweeping package that lawmakers have resorted to in recent years.

The agreement was passed on a party basis. But with the opposition of the hard right, Mr. McCarthy had to rely on Democratic votes to push it through the House.

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Right-wing lawmakers were angry about the deal, which they said allowed too much spending, and wanted to roll back the funding levels agreed upon in it. They want deeper cuts that the Senate and White House would surely reject.

The Senate is headed toward a vote as early as this weekend on a bipartisan spending correction, known as a “continuing resolution,” or “CR,” that would keep the government open through November. On November 17, with $6 billion in aid to Ukraine and $6 billion for natural disaster relief in the United States.

but mr. McCarthy does not have the votes needed to pass this bill because a group of hard-right Republicans have refused to continue spending at current levels – even temporarily – while others oppose passing any temporary bill at all.

Mr. McCarthy is likely to be able to pass the Senate plan with a coalition of Republicans and Democrats. But some right-wing Republicans have vowed to try to remove him from office if he does so.

Instead, House Republicans this week worked to pass four individual spending bills over the course of the year that would cut government funding, while also being packed with extreme policy riders. Those bills, three of which passed Thursday evening, are dead on arrival in the Senate and will not become law and will not prevent a shutdown.

Friday mr. McCarthy tried and failed to pass his own stopgap bill, a 30-day correction that would cut spending and impose tough restrictions on immigration. The hard right joined with the Democrats to defeat him.

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If the government shuts down, Congress would need to pass a spending correction to reopen it temporarily while it works on annual spending bills to fund federal agencies over the next fiscal year. Both must be bipartisan agreements, with the Senate and White House controlled by Democrats, and the House of Representatives controlled by Republicans.

Mr. McCarthy has some difficult calculations at this point to make that happen given his narrow majority in the House. Or he might try to pass a bill with Democrats, risking his position as speaker.