The chances of a government shutdown increased slightly on Monday when a group of right-wing Republicans in the House of Representatives publicly stated what they need to see in a stopgap bill to keep federal offices open beyond September 30.
The House Freedom Caucus, made up of Conservative and Libertarian members trying to push the GOP leadership to the right, said in an opinion On social media, they would not support a temporary spending bill unless it included several things that would likely be anathema to Senate Democrats and the White House.
The list of demands also includes the addition of the emergency solution a border security law which passed the House of Representatives in May and addressed the “unprecedented arming” of the Justice Department and the ending of the “cancerous policy of vigilance” in the Defense Department.
The government’s fiscal year ends on September 30, which means new funds will need to be approved by then to keep many government agencies operating and running as normal. However, funding bills for these agencies are still processed separately by the House and Senate, requiring a near-term bill.
Normally, such a placeholder design is uncontroversial and merely keeps government spending at the same level as the fiscal year just ended for a short period of time. However, the Freedom Caucus indicated that this is not an option for its members.
“Any support for a ‘clean’ rolling resolution would be an endorsement of current fiscal 2023 spending levels, which have been significantly increased by the lame December 2022 omnibus spending draft that we all vehemently opposed just seven months ago,” the group said in her explanation.
House Republicans hold 222 of the 435 House seats, meaning they can lose at most four members before having to rely on House Democrats to cross the aisle and vote with them. If the Freedom Caucus sticks to its demands, it could force House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to enlist the help of Democrats, which in turn could allow Democrats to grant concessions on the stopgap bill force.
However, both McCarthy and his Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.), have downplayed the likelihood of a shutdown A clear plan to avoid this is still pending.
If the Freedom Caucus holds out and McCarthy and the Democrats hold the government temporarily open beginning October 1, there is no guarantee that an agreement will be reached on overall funding for federal agencies and programs for all of 2024.
And the antics of the Freedom Caucus could exacerbate divisions within the Republican Conference in the House of Representatives. Before lawmakers went into summer recess, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who is not a member of the Freedom Caucus, complained that the group was endangering the party’s more moderate members in swing counties by forcing them to vote on bills , which prevent this would never pass the Senate.
“I just don’t understand that logic,” he said.