Inevitable. That’s the word lawmakers are using today to describe the likelihood of a government shutdown as the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year draws closer.
It didn’t have to be this way. Lawmakers struck a budget agreement in June as part of negotiations to raise the debt ceiling. It outlined a framework for funding the government intended to avoid this very scenario.
Since then, the Senate has moved forward largely in good faith, negotiating bipartisan spending bills within the agreed-upon limits. When it became clear that lawmakers would not finalize all 12 of their spending bills for Fiscal Year 2024 by the Sept. 30 deadline, senators moved—again in a bipartisan fashion—to pass a Continuing Resolution to keep the government open as they resume this work.
Things look very different in the House, where a small group of 10 extremist lawmakers has turned their backs on the June agreement, demanding additional spending reductions below negotiated levels and the inclusion of harmful policies (including harsh immigration measures) in exchange for their votes.
Shutdowns are never good. They put the nation’s economy at risk, delay or interrupt services to millions, harm our ability to support lifesaving initiatives worldwide, and disrupt the jobs of over a million federal workers. They’re also very expensive.
By shutting down the government to extract additional cuts in federal spending, this small group of extremist lawmakers is showing that they are willing to throw the country into chaos to score political points.
That is frustrating—no question. But now is not the time to give up. We engage in advocacy as part of the federal budget and appropriations process precisely because we know what a profound impact government programs have on the lives of people in the United States and worldwide. That most of our elected officials are working earnestly to identify compromises and legislate across their differences indicates that the obstacles before us can be overcome.
In the coming days, lawmakers will be pressured to reopen the government at any cost. It will be up to advocates like us to hold them to account. We must work together to ensure that they keep to previously agreed spending levels, reject further spending cuts, and protect investments in critical programs to prevent conflict and atrocities worldwide, respond to the climate crisis, and meet the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors here and abroad.
Stay tuned for updates as the deadline is reached.
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Acknowledging Harm, Calling for Healing on Orange Shirt Day
Sept. 30 marks the National Day of Remembrance for Indian Boarding Schools, an Indigenous-led grassroots effort to raise awareness of the far-reaching intergenerational impacts of the boarding school era. Orange Shirt Day honors survivors and the children who never returned home from Indian boarding schools, their families, and their communities. You can engage with this effort by learning more, writing Congress, and by wearing orange.