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Shutdown Stalemate

With 4 voting days (and Saturday) remaining to avoid a government shutdown, the prospects for doing so look grim. Many on Capitol Hill are saying a shutdown is inevitable at this point – the real question is the scope of affected agencies and how long will it last. Speaker Kevin McCarthy has significant intra-party hurdles to navigate, not to mention the negotiations with Senate leadership that would follow, to get a funding package to the President’s desk.

A recap of recent events:

- In August, the Freedom Caucus sent a statement noting that their support for a Continuing Resolution (CR) was contingent upon the measure including provisions from the GOP’s Secure the Border Act, an end to financial support for Ukraine, and changes to DOJ, FBI, and Pentagon policies.

- Last week, the House cancelled votes on both the House’s Defense Appropriations bill (which would’ve been the second of 12 bills to pass the House and appeared to be the best starting point for consensus) and the GOP’s proposed stopgap funding bill, which included many of the immigration reform provisions asked for by the Freedom Caucus.

- Over the weekend, the House scheduled votes for updated versions of their Defense, Homeland Security, State Department, and Agriculture appropriations bills. These new spending bills contain almost $3.8 billion in cuts to agriculture and foreign aid programs from the committee-passed versions. Hundreds of amendments have already been submitted on these bills.

And the current landscape:

- Both sides of the Senate are intent on adhering to the funding levels set in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, while many House Republicans are determined to use the significantly lower levels across the board.

- The Senate also wants whatever spending measure that moves forward to include funding for Ukraine and disaster aid. The Freedom Caucus has specifically stated that additional aid for Ukraine is a nonstarter.

- Several Republicans have stated publicly that they’ll move to oust McCarthy as Speaker if he cuts a deal with House Democrats to pass a spending bill. Others have implied that they won’t back a CR, regardless of what it contains.

- The Senate has shifted its attention from its VA-Transportation-Ag minibus to a full stopgap resolution that would fund the government through early December. If they’re able to pass a CR before the House moves its new funding bills, the Senate will have a stronger negotiating position when the two chambers conference to iron out a final product.

Passage of these new House spending bills will depend largely on whether Leader McCarthy and his inner circle are able to quickly whip votes within the Republican Conference. Even if all the bills are passed, little time remains to address the remainder of government spending (i.e. Energy and Water, Interior, Labor, Commerce, etc.) in time to avoid a partial shutdown without the use of a CR.


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