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WHY ARE WE BACK HERE? Government shutdown could start in five days

WHY ARE WE BACK HERE? Government shutdown could start in five days

After this point in his tenure, Speaker Mike Johnson has managed to avoid a government shutdown by passing frantic, last-minute, bipartisan, continuing resolutions. Now, however, Johnson and the entire House face March 1st and March 8th deadlines, and there is increasing fear his tactics will not work this time.

That’s more than a little worrisome, beyond even just the repercussions of a government shutdown. The world is watching for signs that the U.S. actually has a functioning government.

The stopgap deals that were made in the past worked but only because they never addressed the core issue, far-right demands for cuts to various government programs that the MAGA faction can’t stand. Stopgap funding happened last year in September, November, and then again in January just to keep the government functioning.

Each time, the process took bipartisan agreements.

But a similar approach likely won’t work this time due to the unique two-step stopgap bill passed in January, putting a March 1st and March 8th deadline on themselves to fund differing governmental functions.

The unaddressed extremists’ demands are increasingly intense and, even more worrisome, increasingly fractured within the various wings of the House Republican caucus. At this point, no one sees a path to an agreement.

According to a report in The Hill, the Appropriations Committee Chair, Rep. Patrick McHenry, is advising Johnson to push aside the far-right’s ultimatums, try not to worry about their votes yet, and go with whatever the Committee puts forth.

But that is also contingent on a sleepless committee that has been working furiously for weeks to find any sort of deal that could pass. And there is an increasing sense of dread that no such deal exists

A Senate GOP aide stated, “I’m worried. Of all the scares we’ve had since the last fiscal year, I think this is going to be the scariest… ”

McHenry put the odds of reaching a deal for either deadline at “50-50.”

Obviously, that isn’t reassuring because he’s likely trying to sound optimistic. Markets and big banks around the world are watching this Congress because it appears that the United States is simply too partisan to even function. Now, it’s in question whether this country will pay its bills to even function.

Yes, the government has been shut down before in the last two decades, but never with the increasingly furious partisanship.

The first consequences of the failure to reach an agreement are already being felt.

As the deadlines near, the government must undertake certain steps ahead of time to prepare for a shutdown, and now even that process is getting old. As the White House Office of Management and Budget states:

“One week prior to the expiration of appropriations bills, regardless of whether the enactment of appropriations appears imminent, OMB will communicate with agency senior officials to remind agencies of their responsibilities to review and update orderly shutdown plans, and will share a draft communication template to notify employees of the status of appropriations.”

It is easy to see why that would be maddening again, as it has been the last three times. This only increases the frustration felt around Washington.

Congress will be gaveled into session on February 28, and thankfully, it happens to be a leap year.

Both branches have one full “extra” day to reach a deal that would keep the government open or, by default, shut it down.

We know what we want, and we know what the markets and the financial world want. This week, we will see if Congress can figure out what it wants.

This report is based on original reporting by Mike Lillis of The Hill.

Jason Miciak
Jason Miciak is an associate editor and opinion writer for Occupy Democrats. He's a Canadian-American who grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He is a trained attorney, but for the last five years, he's devoted his time to writing political news and analysis. He enjoys life on the Gulf Coast as a single dad to a 15-year-old daughter. Hobbies include flower pots, cooking, and doing what his daughter tells him they're doing. Sign up to get all of my posts by email right here:

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