Warnings of a Government Shutdown Increase as Deadline Approaches
With just over two weeks remaining, there has been no sign of a path for political leaders to prevent a funding lapse that would trigger a partial government shutdown at the end of the current fiscal year September 30.
Efforts to Avoid Shutdown
As the House returned this week from an extended recess to join the Senate, warnings of a shutdown far exceeded efforts to avoid one. The only tangible move since the recess ended has been introduction of a Senate bill (S-2729) creating an automatic temporary funding bill at current spending levels if no spending authority is in place by September 30. However, similar bills offered in past similar situations did not advance.
No Measure to Extend Funding
To date, neither chamber has crafted a measure to give Congress more time to enact regular funding, the usual outcome in these situations. Traditionally, such measures start in the House and continue funding at prior levels, with some add-ons, into November or December.
Disagreements within the House
About three dozen of the farthest-right Republicans in the House have been insisting on a number of social policy provisions and on spending levels below those set in the law enacted in the spring that suspended the federal debt ceiling. Without their support, GOP leaders would have to rely on Democrats for passage, who would not vote for such provisions.
If the House were to pass temporary funding containing such provisions, the Senate would likely counter with its own version without the policy riders and with funding levels that reflect those of the debt ceiling law. It might also add funding for support to Ukraine and other purposes that the White House has requested since that law passed.
Differences in Spending Bills
The House versions of the regular spending bills have been advancing on party-line votes and contain lower spending levels and social policy provisions. On the other hand, the Senate versions have been gaining strong bipartisan support and follow the previous spending outline without such policy riders.
Impact on Federal Employees
The House version of the bill most directly affecting federal employees would ban agency diversity initiatives, bar coverage in the FEHB program for gender-affirming care, and claw back much of the additional long-term funding approved last year for the IRS. It would also bar investment of money through the TSP in mutual funds that use environmental, social, or governance criteria.
The possibility of a government shutdown looms as the deadline approaches, with disagreements between political leaders and the lack of a clear path to prevent it. The outcome remains uncertain as negotiations continue.
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