The US clock is ticking towards a government shutdown, beginning at midnight on Saturday, as the deadline of funding draws near.
The Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, is trying to secure agreement on a 45-day short-term spending bill.
He announced on Saturday morning, that he would put a 45-day continuing resolution (CR) plan to the floor – a stop-gap that would keep federal agencies open until Congress can agree on a new funding bill.
The CR would include disaster relief funding, but would not include US foreign aid for Ukraine, which Democrats have been insisting on.
The Minority Leader of the House, Hakeem Jeffries had demanded more time to review the House GOP’s proposed 45-day short-term spending bill, telling reporters that Democrats don’t trust Republicans’ word on what is in the bill.
“We haven’t had an opportunity to review the continuing resolution. It was just dropped upon us at the 11th hour, and our members are of the view that nothing that Republicans have said this year is trustworthy. Nothing,” Jeffries said.
“You drop a bill, tell America that it’s a clean continuing resolution, and we’re expected as elected representatives just to blindly vote on it, like sheep?” he said. “With that record, of having your credibility undermined, over and over and over again, at minimum we need time on behalf of the American people that we represent to evaluate the continuing resolution that will be before the House of Representatives.”
McCarthy has faced threats from hardline conservatives who vowed to oust him if he relies on Democratic votes to avert a shutdown, while fellow hard-line Republicans are also rebelling, putting his speakership on the line.
Republicans control the House of Representatives by a slim majority, while Democrats hold the Senate by a single seat, which implies that spending bills to keep the government open, would require agreement from both parties, for it to advance through both chambers to the desk of the President, Joe Biden.
The shutdown which is reportedly the fourth to occur over the past decade, has raised concerns because of its ability to impact the country in everything.
Air travel, marriage licenses, drinking water, crucial nutrition programmes, Museums, national parks, government offices,
research facilities and communities health centres with federal government oversight or funding are likely to suspend operations for the period of the shutdown.
Such shutdowns take place when Congress is unable to approve the roughly 30% of the federal budget it ought to approve before the start of each fiscal year on October 1.
With this development, hundreds of thousands of federal workers except those deemed “essential” will be at home on Monday, without pay.
Federal workers holding student loan debt are more worried, as Loan repayments for over 40 million people will restart on Sunday, after being paused since the start of the pandemic.
Essential service providers who would be working without pay, according to report, will include more than 1.4 million active-duty members of the military and tens of thousands of air traffic controllers.
A BBC report states that the government agency at the helm of relief and recovery from natural disasters is currently scrambling to conserve cash in the event a shutdown collides with an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.
The last government shutdown, under Mr Trump in 2019, reportedly lasted for 34 days, and erased $11bn in economic output, according to the Congressional Budget Office.