Lawmakers will return to Capitol Hill this week with only a few days to avert a government shutdown.
Under current congressional funding authorizations, the government is set to go into a shutdown on Nov. 17. When lawmakers return to the Capitol on Nov. 13, they’ll only have four days until this deadline.
Every year, Congress needs to pass appropriations for twelve different sectors of the federal government. Failure to do so before the funding deadline leads to a partial or complete government shutdown, during which only federal services deemed essential remain functioning. Most federal employees are furloughed during a shutdown, and nobody—including members of the military—receives pay during this period.
Historically, government funding has been dealt with through major, usually thousand-page packages dubbed “omnibus” bills, a collection of most or all required spending legislation in a single bill. But many Republicans found this status quo unacceptable and have demanded that Congress instead pass each of the twelve spending bills on their own, a process they say is more transparent but also one which makes it harder to pass funding. The initial deadline to fund the government was at the end of September.
However, in an act that cost him the speaker’s gavel, then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) put a continuing resolution (CR) on the floor, a stopgap spending bill that keeps the government open. This bill, which kept the government funded for 45 more days, passed largely due to Democrats’ support.
Just days later, on Oct. 3, Rep. Matt Gates (R-Fla.)—a longtime critic of Mr. McCarthy—put an ultimately successful measure on the floor to vacate Mr. McCarthy’s speakership.