Congress has just five days to negotiate and pass a bill to continue to fund the government after the end of the fiscal year on September 30th, 2023. Last weekend, leadership of both the House Freedom Caucus and House Main Street Caucus released a stopgap proposal, or continuing resolution (CR) that would temporarily fund the government until October 31 and included an 8% cut to all non-defense programs and steeper cuts to some additional programs, including a 60% cut to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and an 18% cut to the new 988 suicide prevention hotline.
The CR proposal also included provisions from the House’s border security bill, introduced earlier this year. Members of the far-right Freedom Caucus did not support the proposal and it has not been brought to the floor because Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) does not have enough votes to pass it. Instead, the House has turned back to moving their Appropriations bills and may consider 4 appropriations bills—Agriculture, State/Foreign Operations (SFOPS), Homeland, and Defense – this week. Both the Agriculture and SFOPS bills include further cuts, as the Speaker attempts to meet the demands of the most conservative voices in his party. It is uncertain whether these votes will happen at this time.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has teed up a House bill for debate this week that could serve as a vehicle for a Senate-led CR proposal. Although the House traditionally moves first on a CR, it is not impossible for the Senate to move a proposal of its own. So far, the Senate Appropriations process has been largely bipartisan, with all twelve Appropriations bills moving out of the Senate Appropriations Committee with significant support from Senators on both sides of the aisle. Senate aides have said that a Senate CR would be a “clean” CR, funding the government at current levels, plus funding for disaster relief and Ukraine aid, and would not include any additional policy riders, like the House CR proposal does.
The last significant government shutdown was during the Trump Administration and lasted 34 days. During a shutdown, the majority of Federal employees are furloughed, while essential employees continue to work without pay, although Congress has traditionally passed legislation to provide backpay for Federal employees after a shutdown ends. If the shutdown continues for longer than a few days, Federal systems and benefits can be affected. States will typically use their funds to meet needs for as long as they are able.