The federal government shutdown is entering its third day with no end in sight. And the US will hit its borrowing limit in two weeks, which leads many to speculate that the debt limit, ending or modifying the sequester, and FY14 appropriations issues will all be tied together and dealt with as a larger legislative package.
Republicans and Democrats continue to blame each other for the stalemate, and a White House meeting yesterday between President Obama and House and Senate leaders resulted in little progress. Senate Democrats insist on a clean CR and the House Republicans are unwilling to give up on their insistence on defunding or delaying the health reform law.
The blame-game will continue today as the House continues to bring up short-term spending bills in a piecemeal approach and the Senate is set to “kill” the first of those mini-CRs. Yesterday the House approved a short-term CR to fund NIH after news reports indicated that patients were being turned away from last chance treatments, including 30 children battling cancer. Also yesterday the House approved two mini-CRs to fund the National Park system and the District of Columbia. Today they will bring up two additional mini-CRs to fund the National Guard and Veterans programs.
None of these measures are expected to be approved by the Senate. Today that chamber is set to “kill” the mini-CRs approved by the House yesterday. The White House has also issued a statement saying that all the mini-CRs would be vetoed if they reach the President’s desk.
All of this legislative activity appears to just be killing time as we get closer to October 17th, the date that the Treasury says the US will reach its debt limit. Lawmakers appear to be following a strategy to combine the current fiscal issues with an effort to increase the debt limit and also deal with sequestration in one legislative package. If that’s true, then this government shutdown will continue through next week.