Congressional Outlook: Shutdown Showdown
September 11, 2023
This week, the House and Senate are back from August recess and have under three weeks to avert a government shutdown after September 30.
Why it matters: While disruptive and costly, government shutdowns have become a more common occurrence in recent divided government.
What they’re saying: Leadership has not outlined a clear action plan, but a solution could play out in several ways.
Regular Order Unlikely: Rather than a continuing resolution, the debt ceiling deal directed both chambers to pass the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government.
- The Senate Appropriations Committee passed all 12 bills.
- House Appropriations passed 10 bills, and the full House has only passed one bill.
- The Senate may act on several of its own appropriations this month, but sharp disagreements in the House make regular order unlikely.
Continuing Resolution Likely: A short-term continuing resolution (CR) keeping levels the same could delay the shutdown date and give leadership more time to negotiate.
- The White House, Majority Leader Schumer, and Speaker McCarthy have all expressed support for this path, though dates and details remain elusive.
- The House Freedom Caucus opposes a clean CR.
Omnibus, Minibus, and Cromnibus: We expect these terms to come into play as negotiations progress.
- An omnibus bill combines all of the 12 spending bills into one legislative vehicle. This could be a continuing resolution that tweaks spending levels as a percentage of a previous budget.
- Minibus bills could combine several funding bills to partially fund certain government functions that are less politically controversial.
- A Cromnibus bill is a combination of a continuing resolution and an omnibus bill that funds most of the government functions. This allows Congress to keep the government open, pass certain funding proposals, and extend the clock on more controversial proposals.
What’s next: The outlook is murky and Speaker McCarthy will be in the spotlight as he once again must wrangle his narrow majority to advance legislation. Expect some House floor drama and threats to McCarthy’s leadership with a “motion to vacate”.
Contact David McCarthy (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions.