After barely sidestepping a government shutdown earlier this year over the U.S. debt ceiling, infighting among House Republicans in Congress has boiled over – again – threatening to shut down the government at midnight, Sept. 30.
The political brawl is even worse than it appears, as House Republicans are squabbling over bills that literally have no chance of becoming law.
The schism in the GOP’s far-right has made it virtually impossible for House Republicans to green-light even a stopgap funding bill, leaving in doubt whether the government will continue to operate past this month.
What’s the trouble? While Republicans seem to mostly agree on wanting to rein in federal spending, the issue of how to do so has become a major stumbling block, with a handful of lawmakers exercising outsized power over a slim majority in passing a resolution to keep the government humming.
In a stern warning Wednesday, the White House made its displeasure plainly known. “While President Biden has been in New York this week, showcasing America’s global leadership on the world stage, extreme House Republicans are consumed by chaos and marching our country toward a government shutdown that would damage our communities, economy and national security,” it said.
While some are hitting the panic button, Sarah Binder, a political science professor at George Washington University, says with 10 days to go before a potential shutdown, Congress has plenty of time – in “Congress time.”
“Sometimes, I feel like I am the only one in Washington who doesn’t think there will be a shutdown,” she tells Power Corridor. “The dynamic we’re seeing is that these leaders, if they have to give in, they won’t want to do it until the very last second.”
Does that mean Americans can expect more of these 11th-hour battles? Probably, she says.
“It’s hard to know whether this is going to be a recurring feature of our government – certainly the brinkmanship is not new,” Binder says. “Where you have a slim majority, polarized parties and especially views fractured within a party, it’s really hard to get anything passed, because Congress demands bipartisan agreement. Here, you can’t even get people to the bargaining table.”
Her prediction: As long as party majorities remain razor-thin and polarization reigns “just-in-time legislating is here to stay.”