As Congress works to avoid a partial government shutdown this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is warning of serious consequences if lawmakers veer off course.
Some kids would lose Head Start benefits, NASA research would go on pause and many drinking water inspections would stop, among other problems, the New York Democrat said Sunday.
“For the most part, both parties – Democrats and Republicans – agree we don’t want a shutdown. Instead, we want to work together,” Schumer said in a statement.
He plans to bring legislation keeping the government open to the Senate floor on Tuesday. It would fund federal programs at current spending levels until early March.
That would give lawmakers time to finalize a $1.66 trillion deal for fiscal year 2024 that Schumer reportedly reached last week with House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.).
The senator took a shot at hardline conservatives who have urged Johnson to go back to the drawing board amid threats to force a shutdown.
“There are those on the hard right over in the House who think they can bully their colleagues and the House and the country into a shutdown,” Schumer stated.
“Amazingly, this band of hard right extremists actually say a shutdown would be a good thing — but we know it is not. We have seen this movie before, and it’s not a good one.”
The latest round of budget drama has brought a new twist to what has become a Washington ritual of veering close to a government shutdown on many occasions that Congress has to vote on paying the feds’ bills.
When lawmakers can’t reach a timely agreement on the annual budget, which consists of 12 bills, they often deploy a stopgap measure known as a “continuing resolution” to keep the government running.
This time around, Johnson split up the spending measures, with four of them on track to expire this Friday and the other eight on Feb. 2. Funding set to end soonest covers energy and water, agriculture, transportation and housing programs, military construction and veterans affairs, USA Today noted — 20% of the government.
The other swath of spending covers the Defense and State departments, among other areas.
If Congress fails to act this week, the partial shutdown would mean the feds couldn’t do low-risk food safety inspections, process new small business loan applications or carry out a host of other functions, Schumer said.
“How would it be good for the country to furlough food inspectors that ensure the groceries we buy don’t make us sick? Or delay new applications for military retirement benefits? These are just a few of the things that will happen if we shut down this Friday,” he stated.
Last year, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s deal to avoid a government shutdown cost the California Republican his job.
The prospect of another GOP rebellion looms as Johnson occupies the hot seat.
On Friday, he indicated he was rejecting calls from some members of his party for steep cuts.
“We are getting our next steps together, and we are working towards a robust appropriations process. So stay tuned for all of that,” Johnson told reporters.