(The Center Square) – U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is pushing a bipartisan measure that would continue funding and prevent a government shutdown this weekend.
The government’s current fiscal year ends Saturday. The next fiscal year won’t start unless new appropriation bills or a stopgap plan are approved by Congress and President Joe Biden.
During an online news conference Friday, Murray said her proposed continuing resolution would keep the federal government temporarily funded through Nov. 17 so Congress can continue working to pass full-year appropriation bills.
The Senate voted 76-22 Thursday on a motion to proceed to consideration of the resolution. A vote on final passage could come as soon as Saturday if there is a time agreement. If Senate Republicans slow things down, it would likely be Monday.
Murray, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, called the resolution “a meticulously negotiated, bipartisan bill that I am confident can pass the Senate, can pass the House if it is put up to a vote, and that President Biden has already said he would sign into law.”
She faulted a small cadre of conservative House Republicans who have refused to date to consider some short-term funding options to continue government operations.
On Friday, the House voted down a proposed continuing resolution introduced by Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. The stopgap plan failed in a 198-232 vote. Murray called McCarthy’s measure an “extreme, dead-on-arrival” bill that would have “decimated domestic programs with an across-the-board 30% cut.” The measure would have continued paying military personnel, veterans’ benefits, and immigration enforcement.
“Let me be crystal clear,” said Murray. “If MAGA Republicans force our government to shut down, families and communities in Washington state and everywhere in our country are going to feel the pain.”
Earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., declared that citizens “should not fear a government shutdown.”
“Most of the American people won’t even miss it if the government is shut down temporarily,” said Good, a member of the House Freedom Caucus who opposed McCarthy’s election as House speaker and is one of about two dozen lawmakers who have stymied recent appropriation proposals.
“No one wants a government shutdown, but we cannot continue to spend money this recklessly. It has to stop,” U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., posted on X (formerly Twitter) earlier this week.
Some House Republicans are upset with McCarthy over higher funding levels that he agreed to with President Biden earlier this year.
But on Friday, Murray said, “A deal is deal.”
“The Speaker and the President shook hands. We all voted on it. It was signed into law,” said Murray. “… But before the ink was dry on the deal he shook hands on, Speaker McCarthy caved to demands from the far right to ignore the agreed-upon spending levels and took a hatchet to programs our families rely on.”
Murray said the Senate’s proposed resolution would also continue funding support for Ukraine at “a pivotal moment.” In the House, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, R-Ga., has been among those vocally opposed to more U.S. money for Ukraine as the nation defends itself against Russian invasion.
In Washington state, Murray said, more than 54,500 federal workers and 62,100 military personnel will be furloughed or forced to work without pay if the government shuts down. That includes 327 air traffic controllers and 1,326 officers with the Transportation Security Administration working at airports in the state, likely leading to staffing shortages, longer lines, and traveler delays.
Murray said a shutdown would also delay federal funding for a variety of other domestic programs and projects, including Head Start preschools, pay for wildland firefighters and military border officers, long-term disaster recovery projects, and loans to businesses and farmers while proving “devastating to the economy” and jeopardizing the nation’s credit rating.
“Look, people in Washington state do not want chaos,” she said. “They do not want to have to worry about whether the government is going to fulfill our most basic obligation and stay open. There is no reason we shouldn’t be able to pass a CR and prevent a government shutdown. None.”
Earlier this year, Murray’s Appropriations Committee passed all 12 bills with bipartisan support for the first time in years, but the measures are still awaiting consideration by the full Senate. The Senate has been evenly split among Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris sometimes casting tie-breaking votes. That dynamic could be altered with Thursday’s death of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
To date, the House has passed only a few of its 12 appropriation bills.
The last government shutdown occurred in the 2018-19 fiscal biennium under Republican President Donald Trump and lasted 34 days. Before that, the most recent was a 21-day shutdown led by Republicans during the 1995-96 biennium under Democratic President Bill Clinton.