What to expect on Capitol Hill this week amid mad dash toward government shutdown

Kevin McCarthy
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., arrives at the Capitol in Washington, early Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, as Congress faces a deadline to fund the government by the end of the month, or risk a potentially devastating federal shutdown. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite/AP

What to expect on Capitol Hill this week amid mad dash toward government shutdown

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The House and Senate are set to return to Capitol Hill on Tuesday as lawmakers scramble to avoid a government shutdown just four days before federal funding is scheduled to lapse.

Congress has until Sept. 30 to pass the budget for the next fiscal year, after which the government will run out of money and shut down until a deal is made. By then, lawmakers must advance 12 individual appropriations bills in each chamber before sending their final product to the president’s desk for approval, setting the stage for an arduous process as House Republicans and Senate Democrats disagree on overall spending numbers.


It’s unlikely the House or Senate will be able to advance all 12 appropriations bills and negotiate a compromise before the shutdown deadline, prompting some lawmakers to consider a continuing resolution that would keep the government funded at the same levels until a final agreement is reached.

However, neither chamber has managed to pass a temporary solution, making it all the more likely that the government will run out of money by midnight on Sunday. Here’s what to expect on Capitol Hill this week as lawmakers seek to avoid a government shutdown while juggling other priorities:

House looks to advance batch of appropriations bills

The House will reconvene for votes at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday as GOP lawmakers seek to advance a batch of four appropriations bills, which, if successful, would mark the first sign of progress on spending legislation since Congress returned from recess earlier this month.

Republican leaders announced last week they would move forward with voting on individual appropriations bills, following through with demands of hard-line conservatives who have vowed to oppose any temporary spending deal. However, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and several of his top allies are hoping Tuesday’s vote will soften that stance and allow Republicans to move forward with some version of a stopgap spending bill.

“Let’s make sure the government stays open while we finish doing our job passing all the individual bills,” McCarthy said on Monday.

Lawmakers will vote to begin debate on four appropriations bills regarding defense, homeland, state and foreign operations, and agriculture.

The last two bills significantly cut spending, while defense and homeland increase spending.

It’s not yet clear whether there is substantial support among House Republicans to advance appropriations bills this week, especially after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) announced she was a “hard no” against the rules vote scheduled for Tuesday, citing her opposition to Ukraine aid in the bill.

McCarthy and his allies hope that by tying the rule with two bills that cut spending, they can win over some of the holdouts who blocked the rule last week.

One of the key holdouts, Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC), hinted on Charlie Kirk’s show Monday that he would support the rule.

“I do think that it’s important that [defense] appropriations bill as well as the other three move this week,” he said.

This would come as welcome news to McCarthy, who can’t afford to lose many votes in this close majority.

But, regardless of whether the House passes its bills or not will have no effect on avoiding a government shutdown. Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), one of McCarthy’s top lieutenants, made clear that it is impossible to pass all 12 appropriations bills by Saturday and anyone who thinks differently is “hallucinating,” which is why there needs to be a continuing resolution.

House and Senate both eye continuing resolutions ahead of shutdown deadline 

Meanwhile, McCarthy said he also hopes to bring some sort of continuing resolution or temporary spending measure to the floor sometime this week ahead of the shutdown deadline — a move several hard-line conservatives have opposed. McCarthy criticized those members Monday morning, noting objections to keeping the government open would only result in critical agencies losing funding.

“If people want to close the government, it only makes it weaker. Why would they want to stop paying the troops or stop paying the border agents or the Coast Guard? I don’t understand how that makes you stronger. I don’t understand what point you’re trying to make,” McCarthy said. “I couldn’t understand why somebody would want to do that.”

But, McCarthy declined to say when he plans on bringing the continuing resolution up for a vote.

“You gotta get through Tuesday, [then] I’ll tell you when,” he said.

McCarthy unveiled a proposal during a GOP conference meeting last week that would set a topline for a continuing resolution at $1.471 trillion and included H.R. 2, the House’s border security bill, and a fiscal commission to look at how to reduce the government’s debt.

The House is currently looking at doing a 14 to 60-day continuing resolution, Graves said. The specifics of the continuing resolution are still being ironed out, but it is likely, regardless of what the continuing resolution looks like, that a number of House Republicans will vote against it.

At least nine Republicans voiced their opposition to the continuing resolution last week and over the weekend, making it unlikely to pass the lower chamber without Democratic support. As a result, some centrist Republicans have entered into talks with Democrats for a possible bipartisan deal — which could pose a challenge to McCarthy, whose speakership is being threatened by some on his right flank if he attempts to work with those on the other side of the aisle.

But, once again, a Republican-only continuing resolution does nothing to avoid a shutdown. The Democrat-controlled Senate and White House would never sign a stopgap measure that cuts spending to fiscal 2022 levels and includes H.R. 2. However, McCarthy and his allies once again believe that if they can pass a conservative continuing resolution, they can be in a stronger negotiating position with the Senate.

But, House Republicans are running out of time to pass a continuing resolution and might get jammed by a group of bipartisan House members who have proposed a continuing resolution of their own, which they think they can bring to the floor using procedural loopholes.

“I always like the ball at the last second,” McCarthy said Monday about time running out on a continuing resolution.

On the Senate side, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) signaled plans to invoke cloture on a motion to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, which could serve as a legislative vehicle to advance a bipartisan continuing resolution.

“We must work in a bipartisan fashion to keep our government open, avoid a shutdown, and avoid inflicting unnecessary pain on the American people,” Schumer said last week. “This action will give the Senate the option to do just that.”

If the Senate manages to pass the stopgap measure, it could spell trouble for McCarthy, who has been pushing his conference to advance spending legislation faster than the upper chamber to ensure it includes conservative policies.

“The CR provides an opportunity similar to the debt ceiling and other instances this year where you have some degree of leverage to get conservative wins,” Graves told reporters last week. “I don’t think we need to go play political games … We need to be focusing upon the most conservative outcome and how to leverage this administration.”


House begins Biden impeachment hearings 

The House Oversight Committee is set to hold its first impeachment hearing on Thursday, during which lawmakers will examine the previously made allegations about Biden’s involvement with his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings.

The witnesses for the hearing include Bruce Dubinsky, a forensic accountant with 40 years of experience, Eileen O’Connor, a former assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s tax division, and Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Chair for Public Interest Law at George Washington University Law School.

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