White House To Federal Agencies: Get Ready For A Shutdown

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McCarthy has launched a much more ambitious plan to try to pass multiple funding bills once the House returns Tuesday, with only five days to resolve the standoff. Instead, he’s launched a much more ambitious plan to try to start passing multiple funding bills once the House returns Tuesday, with just five days to resolve the standoff.

“We got members working, and hopefully we’ll be able to move forward on Tuesday to pass these bills,” McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters at the Capitol.

McCarthy signaled his preference for avoiding a closure, but a hard-right flank of his House majority has effectively seized control. “I still believe if you shut down you’re in a weaker position,” he said.

The standoff with House Republicans over government funding puts at risk a range of activities — including pay for the military and law enforcement personnel, food safety and food aid programs, air travel and passport processing — and could wreck havoc with the U.S. economy.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday that if federal workers go unpaid it would be Republicans’ fault. She said, “Our message is that this doesn’t need to happen.” The Office of Management and Budget of the Biden Administration has begun to urge federal agencies to update their shutdown plans as the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. The start of this process suggests that federal employees could be informed next week if they’re to be furloughed.

President Joe Biden has been quick to blame the likely shutdown on House Republicans, who are intent on spending cuts beyond those laid out in a June deal that also suspended the legal cap on the government borrowing’s authority until early 2025.

“They’re back at it again, breaking their commitment, threatening more cuts and threatening to shut down government again,” Biden during a recent speech in suburban Maryland.

McCarthy faces immense pressure for severe spending cuts from a handful of hard-right conservatives in his caucus, essentially halting his ability to lead the chamber. The right-wing conservatives are aligned to Donald Trump, the Republican candidate who is expected to take on Biden in 2024. They oppose the budget agreement the speaker made with Biden this year and want to undo it. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Trump has urged the House Republicans on, pushing them to hold the line against federal spending.

Led by Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., the right flank has all but commandeered control of the House debate in a public rebuke to the speaker.

Late Thursday, the hard-right faction pushed McCarthy to consider their idea to shelve plans for a stopgap funding measure, called a continuing resolution, or CR, and instead start bringing up the 12 individual bills needed to fund the government.

The House GOP leadership then announced just that — it would begin processing a package of four bills to fund Defense, Homeland Security, State and Foreign Operations and Agricultural departments, setting up voting for Tuesday when lawmakers return. The conservatives who were holding up the work on certain bills posted on social media that the progress was not McCarthy’s fault. “Pathetic.”

Gaetz and his allies say they want to see the House engage in the hard work of legislating — even if it pushes the country into a shutdown — as they pursue sizable reductions and cuts.

The House Rules Committee was holding a Friday afternoon session to begin preparing those bills, which historically require weeks of floor debate, with hundreds of amendments, but now are slated to be rushed to the floor for next week’s votes. The panel was expected to wrap up its work Saturday.

It’s a capstone to a difficult week for McCarthy who tried, unsuccessfully, to advance a typically popular defense spending bill that was twice defeated in embarrassing floor votes. The speaker seemed to blame the defeat of the bill on fellow lawmakers “who just want to burn the whole place down.”

McCarthy’s top allies, including Rep. Garrett Graves, R-La., insisted Friday they were still working toward both ends — passing annual spending bills and pushing for the most conservative stopgap CR with border security provisions — in time to prevent a shutdown.

Shutdowns happen when Congress and the president fail to complete a set of 12 spending bills, or fail to approve a temporary measure to keep the government operating. Since 1976, there have been 22 funding gaps. Ten of them led to workers being furloughed. Since 1976, there have been 22 funding gaps, with 10 of them leading to workers being furloughed.

The last and longest shutdown on record was for 35 days during Trump’s administration, between 2018 and 2019, as he insisted on funding to build a wall along the U.S. southern border that Democrats and some Republicans refused.

Because some agencies already had approved funding, it was a partial closure. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it cost $3 billion for the U.S. Economy. While $3 billion is a lot of money, it was equal to just 0.02% of U.S. economic activity in 2019.

There could be costs to parts of the economy and difficulties for individuals.

Military and law enforcement officials would go unpaid during the shutdown. The disaster relief fund of the Federal Emergency Management Agency could be depleted, hurting the victims of wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding.

Clinical trials on new prescription drugs could be delayed. Ten thousand children could lose access to care through Head Start, while environmental and food safety inspections would get backlogged.

Food aid for Americans through the Women, Infants and Children program could be cut off for nearly 7 million pregnant women, mothers, infants and children.

Brian Gardner, chief Washington strategist at the investment bank Stifel, said that air traffic controllers largely continued to work without pay during the previous shutdown. He said that passport and visa applications will not be processed when the government closes.