U.S. Congress faces impending shutdown amidst dysfunction and internal struggles

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Speaker Kevin McCarthy

30th September 2023 – (Washington) Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman describes the current state of Congress as something out of a movie, a scenario he never thought he would witness in real life. As the deadline for a potential government shutdown approaches, both the House and the Senate are facing a series of daunting challenges.

In the GOP-controlled House, Speaker Kevin McCarthy is grappling with the failure to pass a spending plan. He also faces constant threats to his position from within his own party. Adding to the turmoil, an impeachment inquiry launched by McCarthy has been criticized by some members for its mishandling of the initial hearing.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Senate has its own set of troubles, including a military promotion blockade, the recent death of Senator Dianne Feinstein, and the indictment of Senator Bob Menendez. With two more Democratic senators sidelined due to Covid, the Senate is struggling to pass a spending bill while Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) threatens to use the rules to force another brief government shutdown.

The loss of Senator Feinstein has cast a shadow over the Senate, with Senator Joe Manchin expressing sorrow over her passing. He acknowledges that a shutdown on top of this loss would be terrible and wonders how they can face the public and explain their inability to fulfil their responsibilities.

The countdown to a potential government shutdown is displayed on a tablet, serving as a constant reminder of the impending crisis. However, the shutdown is just one part of Congress’s current predicament. There are also expiring programs, such as federal aviation safety enforcement and flood insurance, that require attention. Failure to address these issues would have far-reaching consequences for millions of people.

One of the most concerning aspects of a potential shutdown is the possibility of missed paychecks for active-duty service members in mid-October. This would mark the first time in recent memory that a shutdown directly affects military pay. While previous shutdowns managed to avoid this scenario, it remains uncertain whether Congress can prevent it this time.

Tensions are running high in the Senate, with Republicans struggling to negotiate a border enforcement amendment for government funding. Additionally, heated exchanges on the Senate floor between senators like Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) further exacerbate the situation.

Amidst the chaos, there is no sign of an agreement between the House and the Senate to fund the government, even for a short period. This looming shutdown is just a glimpse of the challenges Congress will face over the next 13 months. With multiple tasks at hand, the House finds itself paralyzed, and Speaker McCarthy’s leadership is under serious threat.

Even former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who experienced his fair share of challenges during his tenure, admits that the current GOP majority is facing tougher circumstances than he did. The divided nature of today’s GOP makes it more difficult to navigate through these crises.

The mood in the House is particularly sombre for Republicans, with many witnessing their colleagues sabotaging bills that were carefully negotiated to gain consensus support. All the while, Speaker McCarthy faces mounting pressure, with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) openly discussing potential replacements on the House floor.

As House Republicans search for a way to avert the impending shutdown, they realize they may need to seek assistance from Democrats, a daunting task after their promises to pursue investigations into President Joe Biden. However, Democrats remain undeterred by the GOP’s move towards impeachment.

The current state of affairs in Congress highlights the dysfunction and internal struggles that have plagued the institution. The impending shutdown is just one manifestation of the larger issues that hinder Congress’s ability to fulfil its duties and pass the necessary legislation. As lawmakers grapple with these challenges, the future remains uncertain, and the impact on the functioning of the government and the lives of the American people hangs in the balance.ShareRetry