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A Looming Government Shutdown…Again

If the House of Representatives and the Senate are unable to move forward with a continuing resolution to extend current funding by the end of the day on Friday, the government will be positioned to shut down. While this brinksmanship is nothing new (given that the same thing happened just over a month ago, resulting in former Speaker Kevin McCarthy being removed from his leadership post), the current situation seems slightly more complex.

The Senate is now more unified in their approach, which includes funding for both Ukraine and Israel as part of any continuing resolution. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) offered a new plan over the weekend, which included a two-step process that extends some funding through January 19th and the remainder of funding through February 2nd (without any Ukraine or Israel spending) – a plan that the Senate Appropriations Committee has basically rejected.

On top of all that, the policymakers who removed the former Speaker for passing a continuing resolution with the help of Democrats (a reality that is likely to happen again if they hope to pass the bill) are still skeptical of continuing resolutions. Making it even more complex, we are now within one year of the 2024 election (and only 63 days until the Iowa Caucus for Republicans).

Of course, the new Speaker may get some additional flexibility from his conference given how new he is to the job, although that did not appear to the case when two funding bills had to be withdrawn last week because they were unable to secure enough votes for passage. One thing is for certain -- the Senate and the White House are unlikely to extend flexibility to the new Speaker and will be insisting on their position.

There is a lot to unpack over the next several days, including:

  • Whether there will be one continuing resolution (Senate position) or two (Speaker position);

  • Whether to include Ukraine and Israel funding (Senate position) or neither (Speaker position); and

  • Whether to align with Democrats on a continuing resolution (Senate position) or attempt to move forward with a Republican approach with the hope that Democrats will join the effort (Speaker position)

Over the next few days, we will see what solutions and alliances emerge, but the list of complexities is only growing and we will soon see who the various players and factions are aligning with.


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