The U.S. Pentagon announced that it turned on emergency protocol and is organizing for the real possibility of a government shutdown at the end of September, which would become effective if Congress fails to agree to pass legislation to fund federal public spending for the next fiscal period.
The Senate scheduled a special session for the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 27, where it will debate the Government Funding Extension and Emergency Assistance Delivery Act, which would keep the government funded and avoid a federal default, the Washington Examiner reported.
However, Republicans are expected to withhold the necessary votes for it to pass, arguing that Democrats have included in the legislation a further increase in the debt ceiling, which opponents of the federal government say will only allow “widespread waste of public finances to continue.”
Along with the government shutdown are the Biden-promoted $3.5 trillion package and a separate bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure package, which passed the Senate but won’t be voted on by the House until Thursday, just hours before the Oct. 1 deadline to pass the next budget.
During a press conference, John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said last week that “the administration’s efforts remain focused on preventing a shutdown and a catastrophic default. In the meantime, OMB is preparing for any contingency as is consistent with long-standing practice across multiple administrations.”
Government shutdowns occur when Congress fails to pass legislation to fund the government, rarely happens, and usually lasts no more than a month. The previous government shutdown between 2018 and 2019 lasted 35 days, and before that, in 2013, there was a government shutdown that lasted 16 days.
Suppose a government shutdown is confirmed due to a lack of agreement. In that case, the federal government will have to suspend the provision of all public services, except those considered “essential,” which include health and safety.
Payment compliance and debt ceiling
One of the critical issues in this whole problem is the issue of U.S. payment commitments. Failure to pass the bill by Oct. 1 would automatically suspend debt payments, which would have a huge negative impact on U.S. markets.
At the same time, there have been discussions for months between Republicans and Democrats on whether to apply the established debt limit or suspend it.
On Tuesday, Sept. 21, the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, against the will of the Republicans, approved legislation to suspend the debt limits, but they have done so by attaching the regulation to the Public Finance Act.
This attitude was strongly criticized by the Republicans, who understood that the Democrats used this mechanism to pressure them to abandon their refusal to approve the suspension in the Senate.
The bill will now be discussed in the Senate, where at least 10 Republicans are needed to join the Democrats to pass the measure.