Washington prepares for the shutdown that was never supposed to happen

September 27, 2023 03:36 AM

Congress has returned to Washington with a government shutdown less than five days away and lawmakers are still scrambling for ways to avoid it.

That wasn't supposed to be the case.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced Tuesday that the Senate will vote today to start debate on a bipartisan stop-gap spending bill with funding for Ukraine and disaster relief. Even if the Senate is able to quickly pass the legislation, there is no guarantee House leaders will even schedule a vote on the measure.

"Over the weekend Senate Democrats and Republicans together worked in good faith to reach an agreement on a continuing resolution that will keep the government open beyond Sept. 30," Schumer said on the Senate floor.

"While for sure this bill does not have everything either side wants, it will continue to fund the government at present levels while maintaining our commitment to Ukraine's security and humanitarian needs while also ensuring that those impacted by natural disasters across the country begin to get the resources they need."

Details of the bill have not yet been released but the move allows Senate leaders to clearly communicate their priorities to the House. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters he also wants to avoid a shutdown.

"Delaying action on short-term government funding doesn't advance the ball on any meaningful policy priorities," McConnell said. "Shutting the government down over a domestic budget dispute doesn't strengthen anyone's political position."

It's unclear if the Senate can muster sufficient support for a plan that includes additional aid for Ukraine or several, recent U.S. public disasters, like the deadly fires in Maui, a key objective for Democrats. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is among the senators who have said they will not support legislation that includes extraneous money beyond the basic functions of keeping the government open.

Any Senate-led solution would require unanimous agreement to move fast enough to avoid a shutdown, and even then, a deal would almost certainly require votes from House Democrats in order to pass.


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