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Shutdown Watch: Guide To The Frantic Race To Fund The US Federal Government

Here at Shutdown Watch 2023, the House and Senate work to pass appropriations bills that will keep the federal government funded until the end of the current fiscal year, which ends at midnight on the 30th of September. If not, the government would shut down. There are only a handful of legislative days for both chambers to use up this month, and none of the spending legislation that must be signed into law to prevent a period of inactivity has passed both chambers.

A Partial Government Shutdown

The government will shut down on September 30 if Congress doesn’t pass any financing legislation unless they agree to finance all or some of the federal agencies for which Congress must designate cash. In this instance, where there is a skewed government shutdown, this path is also rather straightforward. The financed agencies continue to exist and start receiving their budget levels for the fiscal year 2024. The organizations that were not supported ceased operations. One complication is that Congress can avoid a shutdown by approving an ongoing resolution that extends funding for those unfunded agencies until the 2023 fiscal year or until those persisting resolutions expire.

After passing a CR, likely, Congress likely won’t be able to pass a measure for ongoing funding, which would force them to pass another CR or cause another government shutdown. Additionally, all discretionary expenditure will automatically be reduced by 1% if none of the 12 appropriations acts are passed before the end of 2023 (this does not apply to mandated spending programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security). The deal to lift the debt ceiling earlier in the year included the automatic decrease.

What Occurs During A Government Shutdown?

The bare minimum of “essential” staff members work for agencies. They labor without pay, while all “non-essential” staff are being sent home, even though Congress has enacted legislation to compensate workers back pay in the past shutdowns. Law enforcement and jail staff, employees of TSA, Border Patrol agents, firefighters with the Forest Service, and forecasters with the Weather Service are frequently considered vital and perform their jobs unpaid. Although some benefits, like WIC and school meals, that are paid for through the process of appropriations will be discontinued, the majority of automatic government benefits, like Social Security, Medicare, as well as Medicaid, are still paid out (they have a different funding stream). The numerous legal actions aimed against President Trump would go on. Historically, a shutdown has prevented Congress from issuing subpoenas, but this year’s precedent is still being created.

Funding For Ukraine & Disaster Relief

Biden asked Congress for an extra $40 billion in funding in mid-August, including $24 billion for Ukraine, $12 billion for ongoing federal disaster relief, and $4 billion for border security. After Hurricane Idalia at the month’s end, he declared he would ask for an additional $4 billion. A “supplemental appropriations request” is what this type of funding is known as, and it is typically approved outside of the regular funding procedure. More conservative Republicans in the House and Senate have shown reluctance or resistance to continuing money for Ukraine.

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