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September 28, 2023 1:56 pm MST

House Republicans Careen Nation Toward Shutdown

  • by: Colorado Pols
“Everything is fine.”

As we’ve been discussing in this space for several weeks (HERE, HERE, and HERE), House Speaker Kevin McCarthy seems to be no closer to finding a way to prevent a federal government shutdown beginning after Midnight on Saturday.

As The Associated Press reports:

A government shutdown appeared all but inevitable as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy dug in Thursday, vowing he will not take up Senate legislation designed to keep the federal government fully running despite House Republicans’ struggle to unite around an alternative. [Pols emphasis]

Congress is at an impasse just days before a disruptive federal shutdown that would halt paychecks for many of the federal government’s roughly 2 million employees, as well as 2 million active-duty military troops and reservists, furlough many of those workers and curtail government services…

…The Senate is working toward passage of a bipartisan measure that would fund the government until Nov. 17 as longer-term negotiations continue, while also providing $6 billion for Ukraine and $6 billion for U.S. disaster relief.

The House, meanwhile, has teed up votes on four of the dozen annual spending bills that fund various agencies in hopes that would cajole enough Republicans to support a House-crafted continuing resolution that temporarily funds the government and boosts security at the U.S. border with Mexico. It’s a longshot, but McCarthy predicted a deal.

Just one view of what has become a circular firing squad.

McCarthy’s optimism doesn’t match with reports on the ground in Washington D.C. A closed door meeting of House Republicans this morning apparently devolved into a shouting match between McCarthy and “Freedom Caucus” Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is less concerned about a shutdown and worried mostly that McCarthy allies might be saying mean things to him online (seriously).

As Talking Points Memo explains, the problem in the House is the same as it has been for weeks:

Here’s the real power dynamic to focus on: There is bipartisan support for a budget deal in the Senate and there are enough votes in the House for such a deal, but the holdup (or the stickup, to be more accurate) is that the Freedom Caucus is threatening Kevin McCarthy’s speakership so he won’t bring bipartisan deals to the floor. That is the rub here. Full stop.

Anything you read about the dynamic being Biden v. McCarthy or Senate v. House is simply wrong. It’s not even quite right to frame it as far-right House GOP v. rest of the House GOP. McCarthy is being extorted by the far-right and caving to the pressure by refusing to bring to the floor budget vehicles that would pass right now … today … in a heartbeat. [Pols emphasis]

As TPM explains, right-wing lunatics in the House “Freedom Caucus” seem to want a shutdown; were it not for them, McCarthy probably would have moved ahead with a bipartisan agreement weeks ago. One of those “Freedom Caucus” members, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-ifle), has been spending a lot of time on the House Floor making ludicrous suggestions for reducing the budget while yelling about “wokeism”; making fun of LGBTQ Americans; criticizing benefits aimed at helping underprivileged Americans; and inventing new terminology altogether.


“Deputary Secretary” does have a nice ring to it.

Most of Boebert’s budget suggestions this week have been about cutting salaries for Biden Administration officials whom she opposes for various nonsense reasons. Cutting a few hundred thousand dollars in salaries isn’t going to make much of a dent in a $1.5 TRILLION budget deficit. For example, dividing $300,000 by 1.5 trillion results in a percentage so small that we don’t even know how to say it out loud: 2e-7.

Via Navigator Research (9/28/23)

Republicans have been acknowledging for weeks that a government shutdown hurts them politically. History proves this out. But if more evidence is required, consider these new numbers via Navigator Research:

Nearly two in three Americans say their lives would be negatively impacted if the government were to shut down.

Americans say the greatest victims of a shutdown would be seniors on Social Security and Medicare, families who depend on government programs, and the economy at large.

The most concerning and credible outcomes of a shutdown are general damage to the American economy, jeopardizing food stamp funding, and the unemployment rate rising.

Caitlyn Kim of Colorado Public Radio breaks down what a shutdown would mean for Coloradans:

Perhaps the biggest impacts will be felt by the state’s approximately 38,000 federal employees and 12,000 active duty military service members, who will not get a paycheck during a government shutdown. Their first missed payday will be October 13, if the shutdown drags on that long.

While many will continue to work without getting paid, many more will be furloughed until the government is funded again. And that means work will slow to a crawl at offices across the federal system…

…In a shutdown, the first to feel the pinch could be the mothers and young children who rely on the WIC food program. That benefit will cut off almost immediately. According to Colorado’s WIC dashboard, almost 88,000 women and infants benefited from the program in July 2023.

Stunning…if you can get into a National Park to see it.

If a shutdown lasts throughout the month of October, it would mean the end of food stamp (SNAP) benefits that are used by 540,000 Coloradans. And, as Kim notes, “Funding for Head Start, the federal preschool program for low income families, would also be halted.”

Many federal agencies began notifying employees today that furloughs are coming. National Parks might also be forced to close, which would be devastating to Colorado’s tourism economy at a peak time of year (the changing of the leaves).

As New York Republican Congressman Mike Lawler said last week of his “Freedom Caucus” colleagues, “It’s a clown show. You keep running lunatics, you’re going to be in this position.”

We’ll say it again: Elections have consequences.


2 thoughts on “House Republicans Careen Nation Toward Shutdown

  1. Elections matter.

    TNR had an interesting article: 

    The Democrats Lost the House by Just 6,675 Votes. What Went Wrong?

    Although almost no one realized it at the time, the 2022 elections for the House were the Capitol Hill version of George W. Bush versus Al Gore. Even by the standards of close elections, 2022 was off the charts. An analysis by Jacob Rubashkin in early December for the political tip sheet Inside Elections found that just 6,670 votes spread over five House districts would have kept the Democrats in the majority. (Final counts have changed that number to 6,675). For math mavens, that works out to be 0.006 percent of the more than 107 million votes cast in House races. According to Rubashkin’s tally, 22,378 of these votes in the right places would have prevented the Republicans from picking up a single seat in the House. So we are not talking about a normal election—this was the Democrats losing on a wild pitch in the tenth inning of the seventh game of the World Series.


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