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- DTN Headline News
Prospect of Government Shutdown Grows
By Chris Clayton
Friday, September 22, 2023 7:00AM CDT

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- Surrounded by reporters late Thursday afternoon, Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz sounded like a man in charge.

The House of Representatives had just closed shop early for the week after GOP leaders again lost a handful of votes Thursday and again failed to pass 11 spending bills that would potentially stave off a government shutdown next week.

The federal fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and the state of the House looks like a government shutdown is looming. The last government shutdown was in December 2018-January 2019 and lasted 35 days.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., twice this week watched a vote fail to advance the debate on the annual Defense spending bill. On Thursday, a handful of conservatives voted with Democrats leading to a 212-216 vote to reject the debate rule for the Defense appropriations.

The House then recessed for the week and will attempt next week to pick up the pieces as Gaetz leads conservatives to dig in against a short-term funding bill, called a "Continuing Resolution," or CR. For essentially two decades, Congress has relied on CRs to get past the start of the next funding year because lawmakers have failed to pass their spending bills on time.

For critics of McCarthy such as Gaetz, the plan is working. Gaetz, who voted to bring up the Defense bill, told reporters it was "giving a eulogy for the CR," and repeated multiple times that he would not vote for a short-term funding bill even if that led to a shutdown. He said the short-term pain is better than passing an annual budget with $2 trillion deficits.

"We've got a lot of work to do on some of these bills, but this is the true act of legislating, evaluating these things one at a time," Gaetz said.

Gaetz added, "So I think the House's position is going to be what I have been advocating for with my colleagues for some time."

Gaetz criticized McCarthy, saying he hasn't been part of negotiations within the GOP to advance spending bills. "The progress we've made has been in spite of Speaker McCarthy, not because of him. He hasn't really been in the room for any negotiations. That's probably why we're doing this to make some progress."

Gaetz said his goal is to make as much progress as possible on the individual appropriations bills. "And if you look at the events of the last two weeks, things seem to be kind of coming my way."

Backing up Gaetz's position, the House Rules Committee set a hearing for 1 p.m. EDT Friday to take up the debate rules for appropriations for Defense, the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security and USDA-FDA funding bill.

The plan now appears the House will try to slug it out with debates next week on those major funding bills, none of which would likely pass the Democratic-led Senate.

CENTRIST PLAN

A bipartisan group of 64 House members, the Problem Solvers Caucus, had offered a plan Wednesday evening to keep the government running through mid-January with a CR. Such a proposal, however, would essentially force McCarthy to break bread with Democrats on key funding bills, a move that would outrage his more conservative members. Still, Republicans on the Problem Solvers Caucus -- many of whom come from moderate-voting districts -- called on their leaders to avoid a shutdown.

"A government shutdown is not an option. The middle will govern in this great country. We are American first, over party," said Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., a member of the House Agriculture Committee whose district also voted for President Joe Biden in 2020.

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN AT USDA

Some of the early impacts of a federal shutdown on Sept. 30 are that crop reports would cease. The typical Monday Crop Progress reports would be suspended.

Depending on the length of a shutdown, the Oct. 12 World Agricultural Supply & Demand Estimates (WASDE) report and Crop Production reports would be suspended.

Weekly export sales reports would also be delayed.

Mandatory programs in the farm bill would continue, but farmers with pending Farm Service Agency (FSA) loan applications would see work on those loans suspended for as long as the shutdown continues. That includes both direct and guaranteed loans.

Work would also be frozen on USDA Rural Development loans and grants until the government is back to work as well.

Employees for a broad range of federal agencies would see pay suspended until Congress comes to terms on a bill to fund the government.

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, @ChrisClaytonDTN


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