As the specter of a government shutdown looms, the White House has starkly warned against the potentially devastating consequences of partisan deadlock.
While President Biden has emphasized America’s global leadership at the United Nations in New York, extreme House Republicans are pushing an agenda that could lead to a government shutdown.
The White House claims that extreme House Republicans insist on a long list of partisan proposals as a condition for keeping the government open, in contrast to the Senate’s bipartisan efforts.
“These demands range from an evidence-free impeachment to significant cuts in programs vital to millions of families and seniors,” administration officials asserted.
Three months after a previous threat of default over partisan issues, the White House protests that extreme House Republicans are again risking a devastating shutdown. They argue that the latest 30-day continuing resolution is a rehash of previous proposals, doubling down on extreme, partisan measures that are unlikely to pass the Senate and become law.
According to the White House, the proposed bill would not only lead to arbitrary reductions in critical areas such as food safety, education, law enforcement, and public health but also neglect to allocate the much-needed funds requested by President Biden for communities affected by disasters, efforts to combat fentanyl trafficking, support for Ukraine, and essential food assistance to vulnerable populations.
In a release, the White House highlighted the potential impacts of a Republican-led shutdown:
- Forced Labor Without Pay: Active-duty military personnel and law enforcement officers would be required to work without receiving their pay until appropriated funds are available.
- Compromised Disaster Response: A shutdown could deplete FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, potentially hampering responses to new catastrophic disasters. Long-term recovery projects could face further delays.
- Stalled Medical Research: A shutdown could force the National Institutes of Health to delay critical clinical trials for diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, denying patients access to potentially life-saving treatments.
- Loss of Access to Head Start: Approximately 10,000 children nationwide could lose access to Head Start, with the impact worsening over time due to an inability to award Head Start Grants.
- Travel Disruptions: Air traffic controllers and TSA Officers may face working without pay, potentially leading to significant delays and longer wait times at airports.
- Impaired Public Health and Environmental Protections: EPA-led inspections at hazardous waste sites and oversight of safe water and clean air permits could halt. Efforts to address dangerous contaminants like PFAS could face delays.
- Lack of Capital for Small Businesses: The Small Business Administration may need help processing new business loans, cutting off a crucial funding source for small businesses.
- Compromised Food Safety: The Food and Drug Administration might have to delay food safety inspections nationwide.
- Delayed Infrastructure Projects: Major infrastructure projects could face delays due to a slowdown in environmental reviews and permitting actions.
- Reduced Workplace Safety Oversight: OSHA inspections could be limited, potentially putting workers at risk. Department of Labor investigations, particularly regarding back pay, could be suspended.
Senior administration officials said the White House continues to urge House Republicans to prioritize bipartisan cooperation and address the urgent needs of the American people rather than risk a government shutdown. They emphasize that the consequences of inaction are real but entirely avoidable with collaborative efforts.
“In the past few years, we’ve seen the routinization of the unusual,” Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told the Guardian this month. “It’s terrible for the country. It’s hard enough for a great nation to conduct its affairs without this sort of short-sighted nonsense getting in its way. Government as we know it is grinding to a halt.”