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Congress Stares Down Shutdown Deadline

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The House and Senate this week are staring down a Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government, with a shutdown becoming more and more likely as lawmakers remain unable to reach a deal on keeping the lights on in Washington beyond the end of the month.

Congress has just five days to avert a shutdown before the government runs out of money.

On the House side, Republicans are looking to advance four spending bills early this week, an effort that will not help avoid a shutdown but one that GOP leaders are hoping will make Republicans opposed to a continuing resolution (CR) more open to a stopgap bill. The House GOP conference has been unable to coalesce around a partisan CR, which leaders want to pass to put them in a stronger negotiating position with the White House and Democrats in the Senate.

With the funding deadline inching closer and the House without a solid path to averting a shutdown, the Senate this week will move ahead with its own path to pass a stopgap bill. The House traditionally moves on spending and revenue bills first, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is pressing ahead as House Republicans remain divided.

Aside from government funding, the House Oversight Committee on Thursday is scheduled to hold its first hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Biden, a presentation that is expected to the panel’s findings throughout its months-long investigation. No public evidence has shown that Biden directly benefited from his family’s business activities.

On the Senate side, attention will be focused on Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who is facing bipartisan calls to resign following his indictment on three federal bribery charges. The senator, who stepped down from his position as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has said he has no plans to relinquish his seat representing the Garden State in Congress.

House looks to advance four spending bills

The House this week will hold a vote on advancing four spending bills — a move that will not help avert an end-of-the-month shutdown, but one that GOP leaders see as part of a strategy to send a conservative stopgap bill to the Senate.

The chamber is expected to vote on a rule, which governs debate on legislation, for four spending bills Tuesday: legislation that funds the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State and Foreign Operations, and the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Food and Drug Administration.

But it remains unclear if the procedural vote has enough support to pass.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) announced on Sunday that she will not support the procedural vote because two of the bills include money for Ukraine, which the congresswoman has come out against. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) initially said he would strip the Ukraine aid from the Pentagon bill and hold a separate vote on it, but backtracked after deciding it would be “too difficult” to remove the money out of the State Department bill.

In the slim House GOP majority, McCarthy can afford to lose just a handful of Republican votes on the legislative effort.

House GOP leaders are hoping that the movement of individual spending measures will help appease conservatives — who have called for the consideration of single-subject appropriations measures — and in-turn make them more open to a stopgap bill.

House GOP leaders unveiled a GOP-crafted continuing resolution last week that would keep the government funded until Oct. 31, decrease spending to fiscal year 2022 levels, include the bulk of the House GOP’s marquee border bill, and create a commission on the national debt to examine mandatory and discretionary spending.

But even after announcing the plan to advance the appropriations bills, a handful of hardline conservatives have said they are still not supportive of a continuing resolution.

“I won’t support a CR,” Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) told reporters in the Capitol on Saturday.

Senate to move on stopgap bill to avert a shutdown

As House Republicans remain in chaos, the Senate this week will move to consider a stopgap bill to avert a shutdown at the end of the month.

The chamber is slated to vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the House-passed bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), legislation that could serve as the legislative vehicle to pass a continuing resolution.

Schumer tee’d up the vote last week, saying “we must work in a bipartisan fashion to keep our government open, avoid a shutdown, and avoid inflicting unnecessary pain on the American people.”

“This action will give the Senate the option to do just that,” he added in remarks on the Senate floor.

If the Senate does pass a bipartisan stopgap bill and sends it to the House, it could spell trouble for McCarthy, who faces pressure from his right flank to oppose a continuing resolution and, if he has to swallow one, make sure it includes spending cuts and conservative policy riders.

A number of conservatives have said McCarthy could face consequences if he works with Democrats to keep the government open. Upping that pressure a notch, hardline Republicans have heightened their threats to force a vote on ousting the Speaker, depending on how the spending fight goes.

House panel to hold first impeachment hearing

The House Oversight and Accountability Committee is scheduled to hold its first hearing for the impeachment inquiry into Biden on Thursday, just over two weeks after McCarthy directed House committees to open the investigation.

The hearing, according to a spokesperson for the panel, “will focus on constitutional and legal questions surrounding the President’s involvement in corruption and abuse of public office.”

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) suggested last week that the hearing is not expected to reveal new evidence, telling reporters “I think that some of you need to have a refresher course on the existing evidence, so we’ll probably rehash some of that if for no other purpose to help educate the Washington, D.C., press corps.”

House Republicans have been investigating the Biden family’s business dealings for months, but have not yet found evidence to show that the president directly benefited from the business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden, or that he made policy decisions to support them.

The committee last week said it plans to subpoena bank records belonging to Hunter Biden and James Biden, the president’s brother.

“Everyone in America knows why we need those bank records,” Comer said last week, adding “And they can either provide them or we’ll see them in court.”

All eyes on Menendez following indictment

Eyes will be fixated on Menendez when senators arrive back to the Capitol on Tuesday — their first time in the building since the New Jersey Democrat was indicted on federal bribery charges.

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York unveiled a three-count indictment against Menendez last week on accusations that he and his wife, Nadine, engaged in a years-long bribery scheme. They are accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and, in exchange, using the senator’s position to benefit the government of Egypt.

Nadine and three New Jersey businessmen were also charged.

The senator is scheduled to hold a press conference in New Jersey on Monday, outlets reported over the weekend.

The senator has faced bipartisan calls to resign — including from many in the New Jersey congressional delegation.

While Menendez has stepped down from his role as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, but has brushed aside calls for him to leave Congress, writing in a statement last week “I am not going anywhere.”

“It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat,” he added.

The scrutiny on him, however, is likely to increase once senators are back in the Capitol this week. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) said the indictment is a “cloud” that will hand over his service in the Senate.

“I think Senator Menendez is going to have to think long and hard about the cloud that’s going to hang over his service in the United States Senate,” he told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

Source : The Hill

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