government shutdown Live

Government Shutdown Live Updates: Last Chance Fails

Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Here we go again. The U.S. government is once more on the brink of a shutdown thanks to an ongoing standoff between House GOP leadership and the caucus’s hard-line MAGA faction. They’ll have to work out their differences enough to pass at least a stopgap bill by 12:01 am Sunday, which is when the federal government will run out of funding and need to start shutting down. At present, there is little reason to believe they’ll reach a deal by then. Below are running updates, commentary, and analysis about this impending crisis as it unfolds.

The shutdown is nigh

As of midnight Friday, it seems very likely that the federal government will be forced to shut down this weekend. House Republicans embarrassingly failed to pass their own short-term stopgap funding bill on Friday afternoon. House GOP leaders cancelled a two-week recess and have planned more votes for Saturday, but it’s not yet clear what they’ll even be voting on.

On Friday night, embattled Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy said he would not support the bipartisan temporary spending bill already passed by the Senate. And as CNN notes, that was something he had to clarify after apparently confusing his fellow Republicans with earlier comments:

His late Friday night message comes after a two-hour conference meeting in the Capitol tonight, where McCarthy floated several different options — including putting the Senate bill on the floor or passing a short-term bill that excludes Ukraine money. But there is still no consensus on what — if anything — they will put on the House floor Saturday to avoid a government shutdown. At this point, McCarthy appears to be throwing things at the wall to see what sticks.

In the meantime, it’s easy to see what’s going to hit the fan come midnight Saturday.

Will the shutdown affect student loan repayments?

Though the potential shutdown coincides with the return of student loan repayments, borrowers who are due to start remaking their payments in October will still need to do so.

“Even if House Republicans force a shutdown of the government, we still are required to resume collecting student loans this month,” U.S. Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal told NPR on Friday. That being said, NPR reports that a prolonged shutdown could put pressure on the federal student loan program in multiple ways — like making customer service even more frustrating than it already is, and if the shutdown goes on long enough, eventually disrupting the servicing and disbursement of loans.

The establishment’s exasperation

As House GOP members left their meeting in a conference room deep in the bowels of the Capitol on Friday afternoon, there was a cascade of frustration from more establishment-oriented members of the conference. Dan Crenshaw of Texas expressed his frustration at the Republican holdouts who insisted that the House should have passed all 12 individual appropriations bills rather than trying to fund the government through a comprehensive continuing resolution: “There’s this woulda-could-shoulda that the appropriations process could have moved faster. It’s a fucking democracy. It’s hard. There’s no acknowledgement of that.”

Nicole Malliotakis, who represents Staten Island, complained in even more pointed terms: “It’s frustrating that 21 people who claim to be conservatives side with the socialist squad and the Democrats.”

In contrast, Matt Gaetz, one of the leaders of the efforts to stymie Kevin McCarthy, left the room close lipped, ignoring questions from a stampede of reporters.

Lauren Boebert was eventually coaxed into complaining about the disparate treatment of those who voted against a bill this week that included a provision limiting access to an abortion pill. “I would have loved to see as much criticism of those who voted against the ag bill as those who voted against the CR but that’s not going to happen,” she said with noticeable irritation.

Meanwhile, Republicans were inside the room discussing an effort to pass a brief stopgap measure that would keep the government open for a short period as they attempted to find a long-term solution. It was unclear whether this would be enough to satisfy the holdouts, who have insisted that all government funding should be done through individual appropriations bills.

When Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey was asked if there was anything that could satisfy the 21 Republicans who tanked the vote earlier today, he softly repeated, “I’m sure it can be worked out,” before insisting, “it has to be.” He didn’t sound entirely convinced.

A performative short-term funding bill gets blocked — suggesting the shutdown is now inevitable

As NBC News reports:

Twenty-one rebels, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a conservative bomb-thrower and a top Donald Trump ally, voted Friday afternoon to scuttle the 30-day funding bill, leaving Republicans without a game plan to avert a shutdown. The vote failed, 198-232.

Had the House passed this knuckle-dragger version of a CR, it would not have stopped a shutdown since it was miles away from the Senate position. But it showed there are 21 House Republicans willing to join Gaetz’s “No CR” faction, which is truly ominous.

The ‘first-ever shutdown about nothing"? Not quite.

I just published a new post responding to a quote from AEI economic policy director Michael Strain, who told the Washington Post that:

We are truly heading for the first-ever shutdown about nothing. … The weirdest thing about it is that the Republicans don’t have any demands. What do they want? What is it that they’re going to shut the government down for? We simply don’t know.

As I explain in the post, we do know:

Many House Republicans, led by a band of right-wing hard-liners, want to impose their fiscal and policy views on the nation despite the GOP’s narrow majority in the House. Their chief asset, beyond fanaticism, is that the federal government can’t remain open past the end of the fiscal year without the concurrence of the House, and they don’t really mind an extended government shutdown, if only to preen and posture. They are being encouraged in this wildly irresponsible position by their leader and likely 2024 presidential nominee Donald Trump.

But the hard-liners’ real motive, it seems, is to use the dysfunction they’ve caused in the House to get rid of Speaker Kevin McCarthy for being dysfunctional

You can read the rest here.

1.5 million federal employees could go unpaid

The number of employees expected to be furloughed by this shutdown would be nearly three times as many as were affected by the last one in the winter of 2018, the Washington Post reports:

The Biden administration would furlough 820,000 federal employees across the government if Congress cannot reach a spending deal by Sunday, according to estimates from the Office of Management and Budget, meaning they would be sent home without pay and forbidden to work. Another 680,000 civil servants would be required to report to work but not be paid, along with 2 million military service members, the budget office said. All of these groups would be paid once Congress passes a budget.

The hard-liners’ long-standing self-absorption

If you want to understand the roots of the government shutdown, go back to the rhetoric a lot of House Freedom Caucus types were using during the McCarthy speaker-election saga, which framed the House GOP as the exclusive representatives of “the American people.” The conceit seemed to be that the 2022 House races were a referendum on Biden and his crazy spending, meaning the House in this Congress had a popular mandate to blow it all up.

And now here they are, defying the huge House Democratic minority, both parties in the Senate, and, of course, the White House, as they demand gigantic domestic-spending cuts, no money for Ukraine, militarization of the border, etc., etc. — as though they are the only people who matter in the Capitol.

Friday’s efforts to reach a deal have failed, and Republicans are already moving the goal posts

Prepping for a shutdown

The Washington Post notes that the federal government started alerting its employees about the shutdown on Thursday:

Across the government, federal officials dusted off the intricate blueprints that help unwind and pare down the sprawling bureaucracy to only its most vital functions. They braced for disruptions that are likely to be significant, especially if the stalemate persists for weeks, potentially dragging down the fragile U.S. economy while complicating many of the services on which millions of Americans and businesses rely.

Some federal programs, including Social Security and mail delivery, would be unaffected because they are funded outside of the annual appropriations process on Capitol Hill. But many other government operations would be rendered inaccessible if funds expire as soon as this weekend — potentially resulting in closed parks and passport offices, and eventually, more worrisome interruptions affecting federal housing, food and health aid for the poor.

The White House is getting ready to drop some calls

CNN reports that staff have been given a reminder that they can’t use their work phones:

Along with other government agencies, the White House sent a message to its staff with the critical logistical instructions for preparing for a shutdown if one occurs — including a mandatory directive to furloughed employees to turn off their work phones. 

Staff have been asked to enter their personal contact information so they can get updates on their personal devices. If they are furloughed, they will not be allowed to access their government phones. If a shutdown occurs, an email sent Thursday and obtained by CNN said, they will be notified in a text to personal phones and an email to personal and government emails. 

The real-world impacts

Intelligencer’s Matt Stieb has rounded up all the effects the shutdown would have if it happens, including the potential full closures:

National parks could potentially close — or at least close all their services — possibly causing millions of dollars of lost revenue for the tourist towns surrounding the majestic areas. Federal law enforcement from the FBI to Border Patrol and the DEA would work without pay. Federal courts are funded to remain open until October 13, after which civil litigation would be put on hold. However, the two federal prosecutions of Donald Trump would not be put on hiatus.

Read the rest of Matt’s post here.

This post has been updated.

Government Shutdown Live Updates: Last Chance Fails