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What needs to happen to avoid a new government shutdown in 45 days?

The latest government shutdown came down to the wire with a stopgap bill to fund the government for six weeks passed at the 11th hour. But what’s next?

Congress has six weeks to get its act together

Fringe Republicans pushed the United States government to the brink of running out of money to fund operations at agencies and ensure that federal employees continue receiving paychecks. However, a bill presented by Speaker Keving McCarthy with less than three hours spare was passed overwhelmingly at the 11th hour with all but one of the ‘no’ votes in both congressional chambers coming from GOP lawmakers thus averting a government shutdown.

Congress now has six weeks to pass the 12 appropriations bills that are needed to keep the federal government’s functions running smoothly. But expectations are not high that the Republican-controlled House can come to a consensus on funding proposals that would be able to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate and abide by the deal Speaker Kevin McCarthy made with President Joe Biden in the spring.

Furthermore, Representative Matt Gaetz, who is one of the hardline GOP House members, is threatening to oust Speaker McCarthy from his position which would add more complications to passing the funding legislation. Failure to approve new spending bills or extend government funding before 17 November would result in another government shutdown.

Stopgap bill keeps government funded but only temporarily

Every year Congress is tasked with passing legislation to fund federal agencies and the programs they oversee. So far, none of the 12 appropriation bills which dictate that spending have been approved. Hardliner Republicans want to pass them one-by-one while at the same time making deep cuts in spending beyond what was agreed to between the White House and Republican House leadership in the spring.

In years past, delays in finding general agreement between the two parties has resulted in continuing resolutions, such as the last-minute deal on Saturday, which kick the can down the road until lawmakers are usually forced to decide on an omnibus bill incorporating all of them as one.

“The bill we passed today is not a permanent solution on government funding,” said Democratic Rep. Don Beyer in a statement. “It will be a short reprieve that ensures the threat of a shutdown will hang over Congress and the nation in the weeks ahead.

“Speaker McCarthy should stop wasting time appeasing the far right, put the country first, and honor the terms of his bipartisan agreement with the President,” he added.

What needs to happen to avoid a new government shutdown in 45 days?

The speaker will have to wrangle his party members in the House into passing funding legislation that can pass the Senate and meet with the President’s approval. At the same time McCarthy may have to face off a threatened challenge to his control of the gavel, which if carried out would hamper any such negotiations until the fate of the speakership is decided.

Moderate Republicans are working on changing the House rules to keep McCarthy as House Speaker and end the dysfunction caused by fringe GOP representatives. There is the potential that he could cut a deal with Democrats, but many are loath to keeping him in the job and it wouldn’t come without concessions.

“The Democrats are going to stick together and be a showcase of unity and teamwork compared to the chaos and division on the GOP side. Fundamentally, pro-Trump Republicans have got to solve the problems that pro-Trump Republicans create. We can’t be their babysitters,” said Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin speaking to CNN.