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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Biden and Congressional Leaders Schedule Meeting Amid Approaching Government Shutdown Deadline

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President Biden is set to meet with top congressional leaders on Tuesday morning as lawmakers have just days to avert a partial government shutdown. Discussions at the Oval Office with the President and Vice President are prepared to address efforts to keep the government open after March 1st, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Mike Johnson, and House Minority Leader Hakim Jeffries all in attendance. However, consensus seemed elusive even before the arrival of the negotiation meeting.

Schumer said in the Senate on Monday, “While we have made some good progress on several fronts, unfortunately, our House Republican colleagues are still struggling to understand themselves.” “There is a lot of uncertainty about how things will proceed in the coming days.”

Without measures to expand current funding levels before noon on Saturday, a partial shutdown will commence, affecting portions from the Department of Aging to the Food and Drug Administration within the federal government. Another time limit looms in a week, when a significant portion of government funding is set to expire.

Schumer expressed hope that Republicans would work with Democrats to avoid a shutdown. His counterparts in the Senate also seemed to lean towards this side.

McConnell said on Monday, “Shutting down the government is harmful to the country and never yields positive results for policy or politics.” He stated that a shutdown “could be entirely avoided.”

McConnell stated that Congress has the means and “adequate time” to work on avoiding a shutdown and advancing the annual spending bill. However, he noted that it would require all parties to work towards the direction of a clean spending bill and “stay away from poison pills.”

Despite efforts to reach a broad agreement on government funding at the beginning of the year, dissent has arisen in funding efforts. House conservatives have pushed to include policy riders within funding legislation, which complicate matters for Democrats.

While lawmakers aim to approve all 12 spending bills to fund the government for fiscal year 2024, the possibility of another funding patch becomes apparent as the deadline approaches and disagreement persists.

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Supplemental funding package

It is hoped that leaders will also discuss passing a supplemental funding bill, which would provide tens of billions of dollars in aid to American allies and partners, including nearly $60 billion for Ukraine and $14.1 billion for Israel, along with about $9.2 billion for humanitarian assistance in Gaza. The Senate passed bipartisan legislation earlier this month, but Johnson has so far blocked its advancement in the House, as the lower chamber mulls its approach to supplemental funding.

The group of lawmakers met in January to discuss a foreign assistance deal, which was opposed by Republicans who argued it went too far. When a deal was finally announced and the GOP immediately rejected it, a foreign assistance package was presented as an alternative.

In the absence of bipartisan support for House leadership, lawmakers have explored several avenues to bring the foreign assistance package to the floor of the lower chamber. One option is a discharge petition, a rare successful parliamentary maneuver that allows a bill to be brought to the floor without leadership consent, circumventing the leadership in the process. A group of House centrists also unveiled a bill designed to alleviate tensions by implementing strict border security measures at the beginning of the month while providing foreign aid.

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