Lawmakers Quibble Ahead Of Possible Government Shutdown

| by Nik Bonopartis
The U.S. Capitol building.The U.S. Capitol building.

Hoping to avoid another disastrous government shutdown, congressional Republicans and Democrats are trying to work out a spending plan that keeps agencies in business while blaming each other for the standoff.

While leaders from both parties try to smooth things over, a faction within the Republican Party wants to "punt" the major spending bill to 2017, arguing that any spending deal passed now would favor Democrats, according to Politico.

"There is nothing good that is going to come out of a funding bill in the lame duck session," said Rep. Louis Gohmert, a Texas Republican.

But Republican leaders are wary that the more conservative faction within their party could drag its heels long enough to cause a shutdown, which would be disastrous in an election year with the presidency at stake in addition to vulnerable Republican seats in Congress.

“We’re looking for a way forward, and I’m hopeful and optimistic that we’ll be able to do that,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, reports The Washington Post.

McConnell's Democratic counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, said he'd call the conservatives' bluff. With so much at stake this year, Reid said he's “hopeful [Republicans] understand the predicament they’ve created."

“They can’t close the government again,” Reid said. “We’re going to be totally reasonable.”

With a Sept. 30 deadline looming, some Republicans are advocating for a smaller, shorter-term spending package in exchange for concessions from Democrats.

Those concessions could include suspending the refugee resettlement program and allowing a floor vote for impeaching embattled IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Koskinen has drawn the ire of congressional Republicans who are investigating the tax agency's adversarial handling of conservative nonprofits.

Some lawmakers want to hold Koskinen accountable for the fact that key documents in the case have gone missing. Others say they want "very serious long hearings" on the allegations against Koskinen, The Wall Street Journal reported.

On the other side, Democrats want concessions from Republicans, including a vote to fund anti-Zika virus efforts in the U.S.

Rep. David Jolly, a Florida Republican, told Politico the squabbling over spending has become so routine that he's not worried about a government shutdown.

“This is deja vu all over again,” he said. “There’s almost little drama to it, because it’s so predictable what we’re going through right now.”

Sources: The Washington Post, Politico, The Wall Street Journal / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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