Federal government shutdown averted until Nov. 17

By Ignacio Ventura
Associated Press
Published: Monday, October 2, 2023 - 10:28am

The threat of a federal government shutdown suddenly lifted late Saturday as President Joe Biden signed a temporary funding bill to keep agencies open with little time to spare after Congress rushed to approve the bipartisan deal.

How long until the next possible shutdown?

The U.S. Capitol
Architect of the Capitol
The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The bill funds government until Nov. 17.

The outcome ends, for now, the threat of a shutdown, but the reprieve may be short-lived. Congress will again need to fund the government in coming weeks risking a crisis as views are hardening, particularly among the right-flank lawmakers whose demands were ultimately swept aside this time in favor of a more bipartisan approach.

The package drops aid to Ukraine, a White House priority opposed by a growing number of GOP lawmakers, but increases federal disaster assistance by $16 billion, meeting Biden’s full request. 

After chaotic days of turmoil in the House, Speaker Kevin McCarthy abruptly abandoned demands for steep spending cuts from his right flank and instead relied on Democrats to pass the bill, at risk to his own job. The Senate followed with final passage closing a whirlwind day at the Capitol.

“This is good news for the American people,” Biden said in a statement.

He also said the United States “cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted" and expected McCarthy "will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment."

'Collapse of the MAGA Republicans'

A number of House Republicans did not agree with the bill.

However, Lake Havasu political analyst Jim Heath recognizes their influence during the process.

“I think we saw a collapse of the MAGA Republicans. There’s just a handful of them in the Republican caucus on the House side, but they’ve had enormous power because Republicans have a bare majority in the House," he said.

Heath also says the bill is a huge win for Democrats who “got everything they wanted” despite the lack of Ukrainian funding.

What would happen in a shutdown?

In a shutdown, federal workers would have faced furloughs, more than 2 million active-duty and reserve military troops would have had to work without pay and programs and services that Americans rely on from coast to coast would have begun to face shutdown disruptions.

Nearly 7 million women and children who rely on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) could be at risk of losing assistance almost immediately into a shutdown, according to the Biden administration.

Families who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could also lose assistance if a shutdown drags out for a more significant period of time.

Head Start programs serving more than 10,000 disadvantaged children would immediately lose federal funding, although they might be able to stave off immediate closure if the shutdown doesn’t last long.

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income recipients will continue to receive payments, but response times for people with issues could be delayed.

Hobbs: Grand Canyon park will stay open in shutdown

Grand Canyon
Murphy Woodhouse/KJZZ
The Grand Canyon is visited by more than 4 million people annually, according to the National Park Service.

Governor Katie Hobbs described the Grand Canyon as a “pillar” of the state on social media and said that the state is prepared to keep it open for visitors. She said funds from the Arizona Lottery would keep the park open at the basic level.

During a 35-day shutdown in 2018, Arizona paid about $64,000 a week to keep the park open in a similar manner – cleaning restrooms, removing trash and plowing snow. People with permits to hike in the backcountry or raft on the Colorado River could still go, but no new permits were issued. Hotels and restaurants remained open.

She cited the economic benefits to their states and the small communities that depend on tourism.

National parks collectively could lose nearly a million visitors daily during a shutdown, and gateway communities could lose as much as $70 million, the National Parks Conservation Association said.

Those who will work in another potential shutdown include emergency services workers at Grand Canyon who protect visitors and the roughly 2,500 people who live within the national park, Grand Canyon spokesperson Joëlle Baird said.