Government Shutdown Looms as Congress Fails to Pass Defense and Government Funding Bills

Yesterday, September 21, 2023, the United States House of Representatives failed to pass a procedural vote that would have begun debate on a defense funding bill by a measure of 212 in favor and 216 opposed. The defense funding bill would have limited access to abortion services for service members, placed prohibitions on diversity trainings, and included provisions that Democrats have argued would hurt Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (or Questioning), and more (LGBTQ+) service members, as reported by Yahoo News.

Five Republican Congress members voted against the defense funding over demands for additional spending cuts. The majority of Republicans and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had hoped to pass the defense funding bill on Thursday, in hopes that Congress could then move on to the issue of passing either a temporary or long-term government funding bill, ahead of a September 30th deadline before a partial government shutdown would take place.

Speaker McCarthy has been working with members to get the "most conservative bill they can pass, that can also be passed in the Senate," as stated by Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-AK), reported on However, House Republicans have yet to be able to craft a government funding bill that could garner enough votes to pass the House of Representatives, with additional concern that even if a funding bill including more spending cuts were to be passed in the House, it would fail in the Senate.

After the failure of the defense funding bill, House Republicans sent the chamber into recess, increasing the likelihood that a government funding measure is not reached by the September 30th deadline. Before the defense funding bill's failure, Speaker McCarthy had vowed that the House would work through the weekend to find a solution to the impending government shutdown, but now votes for today and the weekend have been cancelled, with members being told they will receive "ample notice" if any votes are scheduled, as reported on

In the case that the House of Representatives is not able to pass a government funding resolution, or in the case they are able to, but not a resolution that the Democrat-controlled Senate would also pass, a partial government shutdown will take place beginning on October 1, 2023, in which the government must stop all non-essential functions until funding is approved by Congress and signed into law. As reported on, each agency determines what work is essential and what is not, with members of Congress making those determinations for their own staff. Essential employees, even though they would continue work during the shutdown, would not receive any pay until a funding measure is passed.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued its Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Contingency Staffing Plan for Operations in the Absence of Enacted Annual Appropriations, which states, "HHS's main priority in the absence of an enacted annual appropriation is to protect the health of Americans." In this contingency plan, HHS lays out initial estimates for HHS activities under a funding lapse, in which case, "HHS will use the full extent of the authority under the Antideficiency Act (ADA) to maintain existing HHS activities, including research and vaccine and therapeutic development." Click here to access the FY 2024 HHS Contingency Staffing Plan for Operations in the Absence of Enacted Annual Appropriations itself for more information.

Click here to read more on this story.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Youtube
© NJAMHAA 2024 - powered by EggZack