‘People need to come together’ Lawmakers scramble as shutdown looms

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 11:16 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Party infighting, budget squabbles, and a looming deadline. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are facing a possible government shutdown if they cannot come to a funding agreement in the next two weeks. The spending standoff features Democrats, Republicans…and more Republicans. The usual fight along party lines has the added element of fracturing among House Republicans as the majority struggles to come to an agreement to keep the government funded.

“People need to come together. That’s the way this should be,” said Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.).

Scott says he is optimistic a shutdown can be avoided. But House Republicans are divided over a continuing resolution, a short-term stopgap funding measure that would fund the government through October. With the end of the fiscal year 11 days away, lawmakers are scrambling for an agreement.

“It shouldn’t be partisan whether you balance a budget. It shouldn’t be partisan whether you have a budget,” said Scott.

Scott says he is in talks with hardline members of the House Freedom Caucus who want more GOP priorities included in the CR, while Speaker Kevin McCarthy is trying to pass a less conservative package but includes border security provisions. McCarthy’s package is unlikely to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate, much less a more conservative bill from his GOP critics.

“We have to resist the temptation to give into the politics of chaos, division, and confusion,” said Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia).

Warnock says the GOP infighting could hurt states like his if a shutdown is the result. Warnock adds the Senate is functioning in a smoother fashion, though some conservatives are threatening to derail the process in that chamber as well. Warnock says he thinks some Republicans want to see a shutdown.

“I’m still hoping against hope that at the end of the day, cooler heads will prevail,” said Warnock.

If the government does shut down many services would be impacted, and a lot of people told not to come to work and will only be paid retroactively. So-called essential personnel are still required to report to work, but they too would not be paid until the shutdown is over.