WTOP: Worries grow about ‘reckless’ government shutdown amid House GOP dysfunction

WTOP, MITCHELL MILLER

The next deadline for a government shutdown is less than two weeks away, but Congress will be gone until nearly the end of the month, causing some lawmakers to send warning flares about another pending spending crisis.

The U.S. House ended its session on Thursday — a day early — after Republicans were unable to secure votes within their own party to address issues including government surveillance and tax cuts.

House members don’t return into session until Feb. 28 — just three days before the next partial government shutdown deadline on March 1.

Given how long it has taken to reach spending agreements over the past several months, there is concern that 72 hours won’t provide enough time to agree on a long-term spending agreement.

“It is vitally important that the (House) Speaker bring forth bipartisan bills that can pass the House, pass the Senate and do so in time to avoid a reckless government shutdown,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va.  “For too many months, we have been coming right up to the precipice of disaster and avoiding it with a continuing resolution. It needs to stop.”

Spanberger said it’s vital to avoid a shutdown, given what’s at stake for federal workers, military service members and various communities across the country.

Many lawmakers oppose taking up yet another short-term spending bill that doesn’t take care of the federal budget.

The budget was technically supposed to be approved by the start of the new fiscal year — last Oct. 1 — but Congress has blown through that deadline for decades.

Still, even with the low bar set by congressional standards, this budget is extremely late in getting approved.

A second shutdown deadline is March 8, which is a day after President Joe Biden is set to give his State of the Union address.

House Republicans have repeatedly discussed the need to return to “regular order” and approve all 12 appropriations bills.

However, an inability to agree on spending within the GOP conference has stalled several major pieces of legislation.

Frustration builds with new House Speaker       

Lawmakers from both parties are frustrated as new House Speaker Mike Johnson tries to find his way forward, dealing with an unwieldy GOP conference that often torpedoes its own political priorities.

Johnson, along with former President Donald Trump, helped to kill a bipartisan border deal negotiated by the Senate. After the Senate followed up this week by approving a $95 billion foreign aid package that included assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, he said the House wouldn’t vote on it.

The reason? It didn’t address the border.

Democrats are now seeking to flip the script on the border and immigration, charging that Republicans only want to talk about it — and not get anything done.

House Republicans did impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on their second attempt, after failing to do so last week. But that won’t go anywhere in the U.S. Senate and Mayorkas will keep his job.

The chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., announced the day after the vote that he’s going to leave Congress.

He’s one of several Republican committee chairs to head to the exits, something that used to be relatively rare, given the effort it can take to rise to a chairmanship.

Some Republicans have made it clear they believe it was a mistake for the GOP to oust former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has now left Congress.

“There was no sense in removing McCarthy at all,” said Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., as he left the Capitol on Thursday. “Because whatever the cards were for McCarthy are the same cards that are being dealt to Speaker Johnson.”

The “cards” include the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which has helped to prevent numerous GOP bills from getting to votes on the floor.

Those bills include a FISA renewal measure that deals with a wide range of surveillance issues to fight terrorism. A vote Thursday on FISA was scrapped by Johnson — for a second time — due to Republican division.

Gimenez said House Republicans had small divisions under McCarthy.

As for his removal, “All it did was take a crowbar to it and make it worse.”

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