Impending US govt shutdown threatens federal operations — What’s at stake?


The dome of the US Capitol is seen beyond a chain fence during the partial government shutdown in Washington, US, January 8, 2019. —Reuters
The dome of the US Capitol is seen beyond a chain fence during the partial government shutdown in Washington, US, January 8, 2019. —Reuters

As the United States approaches a potential government shutdown, House Speaker Mike Johnson is proposing a distinctive approach to avert the crisis and ensure federal employees are not left without pay just before Thanksgiving.

With the deadline looming on Saturday, November 18, at 12:01 am, the nation is on the brink of a shutdown if Congress fails to pass legislation to extend federal funding.

Here’s a comprehensive overview of the situation and the critical elements surrounding the looming government shutdown:

Shutdown dynamics

A government shutdown occurs when Congress fails to approve funds for federal agencies, leading to unpaid work for certain essential federal workers, while others are furloughed until agencies reopen.

Congress members, however, continue to receive their paychecks.

Shutdown date

The government is set to shut down on Saturday, November 18, at 12:01 am.

Root cause

The current threat stems from the extension of funding until this weekend, following a continuing resolution (CR) passed in September.

The impasse is largely linked to a deal struck between President Biden and then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, raising the federal debt ceiling, which triggered disagreements over spending levels.

Speaker’s proposal

Speaker Mike Johnson proposes a two-tiered stopgap bill, or “laddered” CR, funding specific federal agencies until different deadlines in January and February.

The proposal aims to buy time for negotiations on a full year’s spending bills.

Next steps

The House is set to consider the “laddered” funding bill on Tuesday, with the Senate likely to vote later in the week.

Senate Majority Leader Schumer expressed optimism about Johnson’s proposal.

Potential impacts

A government shutdown would affect most federal workers, with hundreds of thousands facing unpaid leave.

Exceptions include workers in public safety, who would continue working without pay.

Postal Service operations and Social Security payments are expected to continue, but other areas like food-stamp payments and inspections may be disrupted.

Recent shutdown history

The last government shutdown occurred for 34 days from December 2018 into January 2019, primarily driven by disputes over funding for a US-Mexico border wall.

As the clock ticks down, the nation watches closely to see if Congress can reach an agreement to avert a government shutdown and mitigate potential economic repercussions.

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