It’s time for the annual face-off between fiscal conservatives and free-spending liberals. The specter of a government shutdown is again the progressive bugaboo. This year, the fight is over funding social justice and woke policies or programs that effectively defend the country and benefit the working class. Some Republicans who believe spending Americans’ taxes to prop up nonsensical budget-line items are holding the line on paying for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, mandated adoption of electric vehicles, and subsidizing abortions for military members.
CR to Prevent Government Shutdown
Liberty Nation described what some Republican members of the House of Representatives are up to this way:
“As the days tick down to Sept. 30, when Congress is required to pass [the] FY2024 defense authorization and appropriations bills, eliminating woke policies from the Pentagon is a sticking point. Conceding that no one expects Congress to do its job and approve funding legislation on time, passing a stopgap funding measure — or a continuing resolution (CR), as it’s called — is the problem.”
True enough, the CR is currently the speed bump in the legislative road, not the required defense appropriations bill. An interim fix for funding the government, the CR comes with conditions. Among the most vexing for federal agencies is the prohibition on starting new programs and capping spending at the level appropriated for the previous year. Contracts planned for Oct. 1 must be held in abeyance, so planned budgetary milestones are knocked into a cocked hat. Programming beyond the year of execution must be adjusted to years in advance.
Each year, when Congress fails to do its job, the opposing parties use the threat of government shutdown as a political cudgel. “US government services would be disrupted and hundreds of thousands of federal workers furloughed without pay if Congress fails to provide funding for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. Workers deemed ‘essential’ would remain on the job, but without pay,” is the dire result of halting the federal juggernaut, according to Reuters. But historically, when Congress failed to pass the 12 appropriations bills on time, the closure was short, and every government employee got paid, although late.
Military Training and Operations Not Impacted
Furthermore, the warning that military training and operations will be in jeopardy is a stretch. All active duty and reservists on active duty would be on the job, as well as essential civilian workers. Non-essential workers would be on furlough, receiving back pay when returning to their jobs. “Contracts awarded before the shutdown would continue, and the Pentagon could place new orders for supplies or services needed to protect national security,” Reuters said.
This year, government operations shuttering could be a little longer since “[m]embers of the House’s far-right Freedom Caucus are pledging to oppose even a temporary measure if it does not cut funding substantially or include new border controls and restrictions on prosecuting former President Donald J. Trump,” Carl Hulse wrote in The New York Times. “At the same time, senators of both parties want the stopgap bill to include billions of dollars in new assistance to Ukraine, a demand that House Republicans are resisting.”
The culprits standing in the way of passage of a CR are the members of the House Freedom Caucus, who want language that puts funding focus back on readiness to engage US enemies like Russia and China. “Conservative Republicans are expected to put an emphasis on repealing the Biden administration’s progressive military policies on LGBTQ issues and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts as lawmakers debate the defense spending bill,” Elizabeth Elkind wrote for Fox News. Additionally, “The demand for lower spending levels appears to be the most widely shared among House conservatives, though lawmakers have not settled on where to make those cuts,” explained Elkind.
President Joe Biden’s spending spree on Kyiv is also in the Republican’s crosshairs for cuts, mainly because it is becoming increasingly clear the White House has not articulated a plan or objective for ending Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. But with all of the legitimate issues the GOP raises, bringing the federal government to a stop for an extended period is unlikely. Washington lawmakers will eventually agree on funding the government with a short-term CR, complete with high-fives and back-slapping for a job well done. For the rest of America, a CR is a sad acknowledgment that Congress missed the deadline – again.