Set aside the details of which chamber of Congress is working on which bill for a minute—we’ll get to them next. The single basic fact everyone needs to understand is that the federal government will shut down this weekend when the deadline to fund it is missed, and House Republicans are the reason for that.
Here’s the state of play: Thursday night, House Republicans passed three funding bills—Defense, Homeland Security, and State-Foreign Operations—none of which have any chance to pass the Senate at all in their current forms, let alone before the Saturday midnight deadline. They failed to pass an Agriculture bill.
The plan is that on Friday, the House will vote on a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government open while longer-term bills are hashed out. But the bill expected to advance is 30 days rather than the 47-day one the Senate started moving forward earlier in the week on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis, and it involves deep cuts to everything but Defense, Homeland Security, and veterans. It also includes anti-immigration measures that Democrats oppose. The whole thing is a total nonstarter, in other words—a show bill so House Republicans can claim they tried to avert the government shutdown that they caused.
It probably won’t pass, though, because Republicans can’t get it together to do even that.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has no control of his members and is reportedly facing an effort to oust and replace him next week from his party’s extremists, told CNN’s Manu Raju that if/when the short-term bill fails, “I still got time, I got time to do other things.”
This is Friday. He has until midnight Saturday. Anything that McCarthy and House Republicans do would then have to make it through the notoriously slow Senate—impossible before the deadline even if any bill that came from McCarthy’s conference were miraculously free of poison pills.
Even the continuing resolution the Senate is working on, despite its bipartisan support and the fact that it had its first procedural vote Tuesday night, may not pass until Monday because Sen. Rand Paul is threatening to slow down the process in opposition to Ukraine aid included in that bill. The only hope for keeping the government open is for Paul to get out of the way and McCarthy to decide that his best shot at survival is to make a deal with Democrats and hold a full House vote on that clean continuing resolution. That’s vanishingly unlikely to happen.
So: The federal government is going to shut down because House Republicans will not pass a clean continuing resolution to keep it open, and they will not make the slightest attempt to pass anything that could make it through the Senate or get President Joe Biden’s signature. We don’t know how long the shutdown will last or how badly it will damage the nation, but we do know who will be responsible.
Sign the petition: Pass a clean funding bill. No GOP hostage-taking.