Home Top News Looming shutdowns, Hunter’s testimony, maybe an impeachment: Congress’ blockbuster week

Looming shutdowns, Hunter’s testimony, maybe an impeachment: Congress’ blockbuster week


There are blockbuster weeks on Capitol Hill, and then there are weeks like this one. 

Hunter Biden is testifying. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is explaining. A partial government shutdown is looming.

‘Congress hasn’t even finished our deadlines from the previous fiscal year. I mean, Oct. 1 was the deadline,’ fumed Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, on FOX Business. ‘Before I was in Congress, I was in manufacturing. And if you were making bad parts, you would at least stop making bad parts.’

Davidson observed that Congress continues to even make ‘bad parts, and we’re not even in session.’ 

Some conservatives say they are okay with a shutdown starting this weekend. They believe a shutdown would at least harness some spending.

‘A government shutdown is not ideal. But it’s not the worst thing,’ said the House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Bob Good, R-Va. ‘The only leverage we have, when we have one branch, is to be willing to say no. To be willing to walk away.’

Conservatives are begging House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., to abandon a government spending pact he crafted with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and others in early January. The accord did not fund the government — hence the funding problem lawmakers face this weekend. That agreement simply established the size of the money pie for fiscal year 2024. Leaders agreed that Congress would spend a grand total of $1.59 trillion for fiscal year 2024. But on what? And how? Those issues remain unresolved. That is why lawmakers have toiled over for nearly two months now – trying to slice $1.59 trillion into 12 separate appropriations bills. It was thought there may be an agreement over the weekend. However, matters imploded. 

Johnson told Fox News Tuesday that he is working to prevent the government spending from lapsing. 

‘We’re gonna prevent the shutdown. We’re working on it,’ Johnson said.

‘The problem is that Speaker Johnson is indecisive. He’s weak. He’s inexperienced and he does not have the votes. Not only because it’s a tight majority. But also because there is a far right group of House Republicans who are blocking him everywhere he wants to go,’ said Tom Kahn, a distinguished fellow at American University and former House Budget Committee staff director. ‘I think he’s afraid to make decisions because he’s afraid to lose his job. He saw what happened to his predecessor, (former House Speaker) Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.’

So, conservatives are now pushing an interim spending bill — something which was anathema to many on the right just a few months ago. They used to demand that Congress pass spending bills ‘by the book.’ One by one. Now, conservatives are okay with a stopgap plan, known as a continuing resolution (CR). Federal spending climbs year after year. A CR simply renews all the old funding — without an increase. This gambit maintains the old spending levels. It is not a cut, but there is no new funding. Thus, to conservatives, it saves money.

‘This is why I support a continuing resolution, which actually is going to force a 1% cut. $100 billion savings and maybe stabilize this inflation issue’ said Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., on Fox.

Democrats — and some Republicans — find this thinking outrageous.

‘It’s very disappointing to see that the House has been so unwilling to compromise and work together,’ said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. ‘We’ve just had obstacles every step of the way.’

However, most lawmakers are resigned to believing a CR may be the only way to avoid a shutdown. 

‘Things are pretty uncertain right now,’ said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex. ‘I think we’re heading toward a CR for some uncertain duration.’

The deadline is Friday night at 11:59:59 p.m. ET. 

‘It’s going to be hard enough to meet that 72-hour requirement by Friday,’ said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill. ‘So I don’t know if a CR is possible.’ 

Here is what is at stake. A partial shutdown stalls transportation and housing programs. It suspends money for agriculture and military construction. A government closure holds up energy and water projects.

However, a full shutdown for the entire federal government could hit at the end of the day on March 8. 

Top bipartisan Senate leaders are trying to avert a shutdown. 

‘The margin for error on any of these is razor thin. And unfortunately, the temptation to choose chaos and disorder instead of cooperation will be strong for some here in the Capitol,’ said Schumer. 

Schumer secured backup from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. 

‘Once more, a shutdown this week is entirely, avoidable,’ said McConnell. ‘Shutting down the government is harmful to the country. And it never produces positive outcomes – on policy or politics.’ 

However, not all lawmakers are focused on government spending.

Hunter Biden testifies behind closed doors on Wednesday before House investigators. Austin will explain to livid lawmakers on Thursday as to why he failed to inform the president or other Pentagon officials about his medical leave. Then, we’re on to a partial government shutdown Friday. 

This is just an average winter in Congress these days.

What about an impeachment trial for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas? The House impeached Mayorkas on Feb. 13. No one really knows the timing of a Senate trial. Eleven House members will serve as ‘impeachment managers’ to prosecute the case before the Senate. But as to their roles and when a Senate trial might begin? The new uniform pants in Major League Baseball are more transparent. 

Several of the managers expressed frustration at the dearth of information about what roles they might play in an impeachment trial. One told Fox they had ‘no clear guidance’ from the GOP brass as to what to expect. 

In late 2019 and early 2020, Democratic House impeachment managers held ‘mock trial’ sessions and engaged in parliamentary calisthenics behind closed doors to prepare for the first impeachment trial of former President Trump. The Mayorkas managers have held no such sessions. That was why at least one impeachment manager worried that the Senate might demand the trial begin right away. That could make the House members appear foolish and amateurish. 

However, a senior House Republican leadership aide said that the brass had briefed all managers — adding they would be ‘fully prepared’ when a trial starts.

It was thought that the Senate may begin its trial as early as Wednesday, but Fox is told not to expect a trial this week. In fact, the impeachment trial may be on hiatus — until lawmakers figure out how to fund the government. 

So this week is a blockbuster as it is. 

But imagine what it would have been like had there also been the impeachment trial of Mayorkas — the first impeachment trial of a cabinet secretary since the 1870s.

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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