Shutdown likely as Congress returns, White House campaigns against

By Jerry Hagstrom, The Hagstrom Report
With only six days remaining until the end of the fiscal year and a possible government shutdown, the House and the Senate are planning to return Tuesday while the White House is planning a campaign this week to point out that if there’s a shutdown, hungry Americans may lose important nutrition benefits.
On Saturday night, President Biden told the Congressional Black Caucus, “A government shutdown could impact everything from food safety, to cancer research, to Head Start programs for children.”
“Funding the government is one of the most basic responsibilities of Congress. And it’s time for Republicans to — Republicans to start doing the job America elected them to do.”
Late Sunday, a White House official said that today Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will join a White House press briefing “to address how an extreme Republican shutdown would risk vital nutrition assistance for nearly 7 million mothers and young children who count on Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children,” and “prevent farmers — who are in the middle of the harvest season — from being able to access new loans; and delay housing loans for rural families.”
The White House also released an analysis showing how many women and children in every state would be at risk of nutrition assistance provided through WIC during a shutdown. 
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that “House Republicans need to come to their senses and keep the government running.”
The Biden administration “will be ready for everything,” Buttigieg said, but “A shutdown would include, just in the transportation side alone, shutting down air traffic control training at the exact moment when the country recognizes the need for more, not less, ATC staffing and when we have finally got cancellations back at or below normal rates.”
“That’s just one example of a shutdown that would mean service members wouldn’t get paid,” he said.
“Coming back to transportation, the air traffic controllers who would be working in the towers, they wouldn’t get paid. They’re under enough stress as it is doing that job without having to come into work with the added stress of not receiving a paycheck.”
Buttigieg said he did not know the last time Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., have spoken, but “there’s also been a dialogue going on about making sure that there’s measures to keep the government open that have things like disaster relief in them, that have things like support for the FAA to be able to get through some of these issues that the FAA is facing.”
Buttigieg added, “Another thing that grinds to a halt in the event of a shutdown is the work that we have been doing to have rules that get passengers refunds when they get delayed. We have all of these parts of the government for a reason. And Americans expect Congress to keep that up and running and keep the lights on.”
He also noted that “parents who are depending on WIC [Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children) might be wait-listed instead of being able to support their kids.”
On Sunday the White House official said, “Throughout the week, the administration — including members of the Cabinet — will continue to make clear that extreme House Republicans need to stop playing partisan political games with peoples’ lives, abide by the bipartisan budget agreement that a large majority of them voted for just a few months ago, and keep the government open so that it can continue serving the American people.”
Neither chamber has announced a proposal to keep the government open after the 2023 fiscal year ends on Saturday, Sept. 30 at midnight.
The House is scheduled to take up four fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills including the Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration bill this week. Axios reported that Republican leaders believe that if they can pass those bills the House Republicans will be in a better position to negotiate with the Democratic-controlled Senate on a continuing resolution.
On Tuesday, the House will meet at noon for morning hour and at 2 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the House will meet at 9 a.m. for legislative business.
According to the schedule released by House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., the House this week will consider the fiscal year 2024 Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration appropriations bill as well as appropriations bills for the Defense Department, the Homeland Security Department and the State Department.
The House Rules Committee voted Saturday, along party lines, to write a structured rule to cover all four appropriations bills for floor consideration. The vote followed business meetings on Friday and Saturday that totaled more than five hours. The list of amendments to the Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration bill begins on Page 53 of the rule.
Roll Call reported that a scheduling memo circulating among Republicans says that the debate and amendments on the agriculture spending bill will begin Thursday, with the agriculture amendments finishing up Friday, followed by votes on all four bills.
A spokesman for Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., the ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee, said in an email that the manager’s amendment sponsored by House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Andy Harris, R-Md., “takes a hatchet” to the Ag approps bill and “makes a 14% + across the board cut to Ag approps, and singles Food for Peace out for a draconian ~70.5% cut.”
The Rules Committee summary of the Harris amendment says the total for Food for Peace is $532.1 million and notes that the 14% reduction excludes the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children.
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., the ranking member on the House Rules Committee and a longtime leader on nutrition programs in the House, objected vigorously to the process, noting that the committee was spending its time on appropriations bills when the House leadership has not taken action to keep the government from shutting down.
Scalise said in a leader’s outlook Sunday evening, “The FY24 Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration bill redirects billions from previous radical Democrat bills that funded far-left priorities to help America’s producers and rural communities, so taxpayer dollars are working for the American people and not against them.”
The Senate will convene at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. Following leaders’ remarks, the Senate will consider a motion to proceed to a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration and at 5:30 p.m. vote on a motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill.
The Senate schedule does not include plans to vote on the minibus of appropriations bills including the fiscal year 2024 Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration bill that was on the floor last week.
The Senate has been unable to agree on rules to complete the bill.
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