Senate Inches Closer to Shutdown Solution

Despite the Senate’s progress on a stopgap funding measure, chances of a government shutdown continue to climb.
Senate Inches Closer to Shutdown Solution
The U.S. Capitol in Washington on June 1, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Samantha Flom
The Senate edged closer on Sept. 28 to passing a resolution that would extend government funding through Nov. 17—unless a budget is passed earlier—and sidestep a government shutdown.
In a bipartisan 76–22 vote, members agreed to open debate on H.R. 3935, a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, to which Senate leadership hopes to attach the stopgap funding measure.

Unveiled late on Sept. 26, the continuing resolution would extend government funding at current levels but would also provide an additional $6.1 billion in funding for Ukraine and $6 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Relief Fund.

“As I’ve said for months, Congress has only one option—one option—to avoid a shutdown: bipartisanship. It was true yesterday; it is true today,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor prior to the procedural vote.

“With bipartisanship, we can responsibly fund the government and avoid the sharp and unnecessary pain for the American people in the economy that a shutdown will bring.”

Sept. 30 is the final day for Congress to either pass a budget for fiscal year 2024 or extend funding while negotiations continue. If they fail to do so, the federal government will cease to perform all nonessential operations on Oct. 1.

Even if the Senate’s solution passes, it will still need the House’s approval before it can be signed. And between the volatility within the House GOP and the shrinking time left to avert a shutdown, the odds of that are doubtful.

Acknowledging those odds on Sept. 28, Mr. Schumer accused House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) of making a shutdown more likely “by focusing on the views of the radical few instead of the many.”

“Despite the fact that many on both sides want to work together, despite the fact that here in the Senate we’re pursuing bipartisanship, the speaker has chosen to elevate the whims and desires of a handful of hard-right extremists and has nothing to show for it,” Mr. Schumer said.

Still, the majority leader moved forward with his own plan, filing cloture on the substitute amendment following the vote.

Meanwhile, in the House, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) called on the chamber’s Republican leadership to get on board with the Senate’s plan.

“We have a simple request of the Republicans in the House,” Mr. Jeffries said during his weekly press conference. “When a bipartisan continuing resolution comes over from the Senate today, tomorrow, this weekend, put the bill on the floor for an up or down vote so we can end this MAGA Republican nightmare.

“And if you don’t, you own this government shutdown.”

The minority leader’s remarks coincided with the first impeachment hearing held by his Republican colleagues since they launched the inquiry into President Joe Biden earlier this month.

“We’re about 48 hours away or so from an extreme MAGA Republican government shutdown, and this is what they’re focused on? An illegitimate impeachment inquiry, as opposed to doing the business of the American people?” Mr. Jeffries said.

Although a partisan funding extension has been proposed by a group of House Republicans, it hasn’t gained enough traction to pass. And many House Republicans have already voiced objections to the Senate’s proposal, wanting concessions on border security and the removal of funding for Ukraine.

“I talked this morning to some Democratic senators over there that are more aligned with what we want to do. They want to do something about the border,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol.

“We’re trying to work to see [if we could] put some border provisions in that current Senate bill that would actually make things a lot better.”

His comments came amid reports that Republican senators were working with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) to draft an amendment to the Senate’s plan that would provide an additional $6 billion in border security funding.
Mr. McCarthy, constrained by hardliners in his conference, has turned his chamber’s attention toward advancing spending bills, although progress on that front has proven elusive.

A House vote on a continuing resolution is expected to occur on Sept. 29.

In the event of a shutdown, millions of federal employees would be furloughed, while military members would be forced to work without pay. Disruptions would also affect air travel and certain safety-net services.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Samantha Flom is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering U.S. politics and news. A graduate of Syracuse University, she has a background in journalism and nonprofit communications. Contact her at [email protected].