As it stands, the government will close its doors from midnight on Friday eveningunless Congress can agree on a short-term spending program to fund federal agencies.
Each year, Congress must approve 12 fundraising bills, but has so far failed to do so, leaving the prospect of a shutdown open. In previous shutdowns, government agencies have been able to prioritize remaining funds to ensure that some essential services can remain open.
Even if the government shuts down, it will almost certainly affect the legislative actions of Congress and distract attention from other issues. However, there are currently no plans to pass a fourth stimulus check.
A shutdown would take longer on the congressional agenda and further delay passage of President Biden’s Build Back Better bill. The president has sought to secure the crucial remaining votes from moderate Democrats Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, and a prolonged stop would be a major distraction.
Biden could be embarrassed by downtime delays
On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that will provide funding to the federal government until mid-February, passed with a vote close to the party line of 221-212. Only one Republican voted for the proposals in the House, and the lack of a bipartisan deal could pose a problem in the Senate.
To get the bill passed before the Friday midnight deadline all 100 senators must agree bypass the rules of the Senate and hold a vote, which is far from guaranteed.
To avoid a stop, the 100 senators will have to agree to schedule a vote before 11:59 p.m. Friday. If opposed, there could be a brief shutdown over the weekend. There is still a broad belief among members that a downtime will be avoided https://t.co/t8h0IDcxBa
– Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 1, 2021
A number of die-hard Conservative senators – Mike Lee, Roger Marshall, Ron Johnson and Ted Cruz – have insisted that a vote be called on their proposal to prevent federal money from being used to enforce vaccine mandates recently introduced by Biden. Vaccination mandates have become a deeply partisan issue, and some GOP members seem poised to blow up funding proposals to disrupt the mandate.
On Thursday, Senator Roger Marshall warned, “The federal government must feel the pressure of what a vaccine mandate actually does. “
Failure to come to a deal and allow the government to shut down would be a huge embarrassment for Biden and the Democrats, given they currently hold unified power in Washington. Biden’s failure to embrace the rest of his Build Back Better agenda could cost his party mid-term in 2022, and he will be desperate for a legislative victory before the New Year.
However, despite the precarious situation, Biden seemed unfazed when speaking to reporters at the Nation Institutes of Health in Maryland on Thursday.
The president told those gathered that he did not believe there would be a shutdown: “Listen, I don’t believe that will happen. We have everything in place to be able to make sure there is no stopping. “
He continued, “I spoke with Mitch McConnell, I spoke with Schumer, there is a plan in place, unless someone decides to be totally erratic, and I don’t think that will happen, so I don’t think there will be a shutdown.