Amid GOP Confusion, U.S. Braces For ‘First-ever Shutdown About Nothing’

By Washington Post
Posted on 09/29/23 | News Source: MSN

In 1995 and 1996, the federal government shut down as House Republicans and the Clinton administration clashed over spending cuts. In 2013, the government shut down because of a partisan disagreement over President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. In 2018, Democrats bucked President Donald Trump’s demands to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall, leading to the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

And now?

“We are truly heading for the first-ever shutdown about nothing,” said Michael Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank. Strain has started referring to the current GOP House-led impasse as “the ‘Seinfeld’ shutdown,” a reference to the popular sitcom widely known as “a show about nothing.” “The weirdest thing about it is that the Republicans don’t have any demands. What do they want? What is it that they’re going to shut the government down for? We simply don’t know.”

Lawmakers have until 12:01 a.m. Sunday to pass a new law to extend government funding, or a wide range of critical federal services will come to a halt. On Thursday, a bipartisan Senate agreement to temporarily fund the federal government passed a procedural hurdle, but that plan has already been rejected by House Republicans.

Typically, funding showdowns in divided government between Congress and the White House have featured pitched battles over specific policies, such as Trump’s border wall or Obamacare. But budget experts and historians say the current impasse stands out for its lack of a clear policy disagreement.

House Republican leaders had already worked out an agreement with President Biden in May on government spending levels for the next fiscal year, but they’re working on legislation that would spend far less than the agreed amounts. The House has no plans yet for a temporary extension to government funding, which means there haven’t been significant negotiations with the Democratic Senate and White House. As long as House Republicans cannot find consensus on their demands, Democratic policymakers — largely backed in this fight by Senate Republicans — have declined to offer concessions, because they don’t know which ones would suffice.