Lawmakers have only days to pass legislation preventing a shutdown of the federal government on Sunday, October 1. In this blog, we’re tracking major updates, examples of media bias, and more.
Image Credit: ©Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg
Congress Rejects Spending Bill as Shutdown Looms. Do Americans Care?
September 29, 2023
House lawmakers passed three appropriations bills Thursday night, including $2B funding for the U.S./Mexico border wall and $50B funding that will be available to fund Ukraine. A $300M spending bill was passed on Wednesday to fund Ukraine as well.
An agricultural spending bill that had provisions to cut farmers’ programs and ban the obtainment of abortion pills through mailing services and retail pharmacies was not passed. Twenty-seven Republicans and all Democrats opposed.
A New York Post (Lean-Right Bias) article suggested that the outcome of the bills could have resulted in more Republicans’ support of a continuing resolution (available government funding for an additional thirty-one days).
The House casted a vote on Friday that denied the continuing resolution with 232 representatives opposed (twenty-one Republicans) and 198 in favor; therefore, the shutdown deadline is still on October 1 (12:01 a.m. EST).
Meanwhile, 39% of citizens report no concern to the fourth government shutdown in ten years, according to a Partnership for Public Service poll. In addition, a Monmouth University poll indicates that Americans are pretty split about whether democrats or republicans are to blame.
“Thanks to partisan polarization, it's easy for Americans to provide a default opinion of who’s to blame,” reported ABC News (Lean-Left Bias).
Ukraine Aid, Southern Border at the Center of Shutdown Standoff
September 28, 2023
It's increasingly looking like the federal government will shut down at midnight on Saturday as Congress fails to make progress toward passing a spending bill.
Two key issues are being cited as major sources of division among lawmakers-- Ukraine aid and the southern border.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said of Democratic lawmakers last week, "If they want to focus on Ukraine and not focus on the southern border, I think their priorities are backwards."
The broad consensus seen in early 2022 regarding support for Ukraine against Russia has faded, and an increasing number of U.S. lawmakers are arguing domestic issues deserve the attention and resources currently being allocated to the Ukrainian war effort.
Commonly, the issue cited as more deserving of this aid and resources is the crisis at the southern border and the large influx of migrants.
The New York Times (Lean Left bias) is reporting that the GOP lawmakers believe the border crisis and looming shutdown "provides new leverage to get additional border security money and changes in Biden administration policy either in a stopgap measure or ultimately in a deal to fund the government through the next year."
McCarthy Rejects Bipartisan Senate Spending Bill
September 27, 2023
The Senate's bipartisan efforts to produce a bipartisan, short-term spending bill are being rejected by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
According to the Associated Press (Lean Left bias), McCarthy met with House Republicans on Wednesday in an attempt to get the divided factions of the party to work together to avert a shutdown. McCarthy reportedly plans to hold a vote on a bill described by AP as "far-right" that would "slash federal spending by 8% from many agencies and toughen border security" on Friday, but apparently even the most conservative members of the House are not in support of McCarthy's bill.
The shutdown drama continues as Republican presidential candidates, apart from frontrunner Donald Trump, prepare to take the debate stage for a second time Wednesday night.
Bipartisan Senators and House Moderates Plot Path Around McCarthy to Avert Shutdown
September 26, 2023
Bipartisan groups in the House and Senate are setting up a legislative strategy to pass a short-term spending bill by circumventing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) struggling effort to pass a long-term spending bill with only Republican votes.
In the Senate, staffers from both parties reportedly worked "through the night" on a continuing resolution (CR) that could keep the government open until November, giving Congress more time to negotiate long-term budget issues like Ukraine aid, disaster relief funds, and overall spending levels.
On September 19, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, "I'm not a fan of government shutdowns, I've seen a few of them over the years, they never have produced a policy change and they've always been a loser for Republicans, politically."
In the House, a handful of moderate Republicans are considering joining Democrats in signing a discharge petition, which could force a vote on the Senate's CR without McCarthy's approval. McCarthy has touted his efforts to pass a GOP bill as essential for Republicans to gain leverage in budget negotiations with the Senate and the White House, but these efforts have failed so far because of holdouts within McCarthy's own party.
Who’s Affected by a Government Shutdown?
September 25, 2023
Over the weekend, we looked at how a potential government shutdown would impact social benefit systems, particularly Social Security:
“While Social Security payments would remain unaffected and benefits would continue to be paid without interruption, much of the Social Security staff, 15% according to one expert, would be furloughed. As a result, customer service operations may be affected.”
What else would be impacted?
Time Magazine (Lean Left bias) reported that during a government shutdown, the government can “only spend money on essential services, such as those related to law enforcement and public safety.” Tens of thousands of workers deemed non-essential would be furloughed without pay for the duration of the shutdown.
Reuters (Center bias) reported, “A shutdown would directly reduce GDP growth by around 0.15 percentage points for each week it lasts, according to Goldman Sachs, but growth would rise by the same amount after the shutdown was resolved.”
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