Congress Still Clueless On How To Avoid Govt. Shutdown

The possibility of another government shutdown looms on the horizon as Congress struggles to reach a consensus on funding the government past November 17. Despite the ticking clock, resolving this deadlock remains elusive as the Senate and House, controlled by Democrats and Republicans, disagree on a funding plan.

Louisiana’s House Speaker, Mike Johnson, voiced his wish to circumvent a shutdown on Tuesday. Yet, the Republican House members have not proposed a concrete plan to keep the government running. The delay is partly due to the recent change in leadership following the removal of former House Speaker, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, for his role in a short-term bipartisan deal that narrowly avoided a shutdown in September.

Last week, Johnson acknowledged the growing sentiment advocating for another short-term measure, formally known as a continuing resolution. He proposed various alternatives, such as a “laddered” funding approach. This method would assign different funding periods for individual appropriations bills, with a subset of bills funded until December and the rest until January. Johnson also mentioned the possibility of a stopgap measure expiring in January with specific conditions.

However, the path forward remains uncertain for the House Republicans. Adding to the chaos, the House has twice canceled votes on two funding bills due to lack of support. Democrats in the House have preferred a “clean” continuing resolution, which maintains government funding at the prior year’s levels, dismissing the “laddered” approach outright.

Republican Rep. John Duarte of California said on Thursday, “We’ll see next week what we do. Much of it will have to do with, can we pass bipartisan appropriations bills and get the smoke and mirrors out of them.”

The hard-right faction who ousted McCarthy over the previous stopgap measure further complicated the situation, as their demands were unmet. While some might be more lenient with Johnson due to his recent election, the absence of spending cuts may provoke their ire.

Meanwhile, the Senate is slated to vote on a stopgap measure next week, although the duration of its proposed funding extension is yet to be determined. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer asserted that the Senate will not endorse any partisan legislation from the House.