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

Some weeks are blockbusters on Capitol Hill, and others like this one.

Hunter Biden testifies. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin explains. A partial shutdown of government agencies is imminent.

“Congress hasn’t even met the deadline for the last fiscal year. So October 1st was the deadline,” exclaimed Republican Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio on Fox Business. “Before I became a member of Congress, I worked in manufacturing, and if I was making bad parts, at least I would have stopped making bad parts.”

Davidson said the Legislature “keeps making bad parts and it’s not even in session.”

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) speaks while surrounded by House Republicans during a press conference after the House Republican caucus meeting at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on May 30, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Some conservatives say it’s okay to shut down starting this weekend. They believe that if they shut down, at least some spending money will be available.

“A government shutdown is not ideal, but it’s not the worst thing that could happen,” said Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. “If we have one branch, the only thing we can do is be willing to say no. Be willing to walk away.”

Burning down the house: February was an unfathomable disaster for Republicans

Conservatives are pleading with House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) to cancel the government spending deal he struck with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (New York) and others in early January. The deal provided no funding to the government, so lawmakers will face funding issues this weekend. The agreement simply sets the size of the money pie for fiscal year 2024. Leaders agreed that Congress would spend a total of $1.59 trillion in fiscal year 2024. But to what? And how? Those issues remain unresolved. That’s why lawmakers have been struggling for nearly two months to split $1.59 trillion into 12 separate spending bills. It was thought a deal could be reached over the weekend. However, things fell apart.

“The problem is that Speaker Johnson is indecisive. He’s weak. He’s inexperienced. He doesn’t have the votes. It’s not just because the majority is so close, but because far-right groups in the House Republican Party are willing to go wherever Speaker Johnson wants. ‘Because we’re stopping them,”’ said Tom Kahn, a distinguished fellow at American University and former staff director of the House Budget Committee. “I think he’s afraid to make his decision for fear of losing his job. He’s afraid to make his decision for fear of losing his job. I saw what happened.”

So conservatives are now pushing an interim spending bill that would have been anathema to many on the right just a few months ago. They used to demand that Congress pass spending bills “as they flow.” One by one. For now, conservatives are fine with the stopgap plan known as the Continuing Resolution (CR). Federal spending increases every year. CR only updates all old funds, there are no increases. This strategy maintains previous spending levels. It’s not a cut, but there is no new funding. So for conservatives, it’s a money saver.

“This is why I support the continuing resolution. It would actually force a 1% cut, which would save $100 billion and probably reduce this inflation,” Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) said on Fox. The problem will stabilize.”

Democrats, and some Republicans, think the idea is outrageous.

“It’s very disappointing to see the House of Representatives’ reluctance to compromise and cooperate,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H). “We have faced obstacles every step of the way.”

But most lawmakers have given up, believing CR may be the only way to avoid a government shutdown.

“The situation is pretty uncertain at this point,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. “I think we will continue to move towards CR for a period of uncertainty.”

The deadline is Friday night at 11:59:59 PM ET.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, a Democrat, said it would be “very difficult to meet the 72-hour requirement by Friday.” “So I don’t know if CR is possible.”

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson. (Chip Somodevilla)

Therein lies the problem. Partial closures disrupt transportation and housing programs. Stop funding for agriculture and military construction. Government shutdown stalls energy and water projects.

However, by the end of March 8th, a complete shutdown of the entire federal government could be reached.

Bipartisan Senate leaders are trying to avoid a shutdown.

“The margin for error on any of these is very thin. And unfortunately, for some here on Capitol Hill, the temptation will be strong to choose chaos and anarchy over cooperation,” Schumer said. said.

Schumer secured the support of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“Again, this week’s shutdown is completely avoidable,” McConnell said. “Government shutdowns are harmful to the country. And they never produce positive outcomes in terms of policy or politics.”

But not all lawmakers are focused on government spending.

Hunter Biden testified privately before House investigators Wednesday. Mr. Austin is scheduled to explain to outraged lawmakers Thursday why he did not inform the president or other Pentagon officials about his medical leave. And on Friday, there will be a partial government shutdown.

It’s been an average winter in Congress lately.

Frustration grows among Mallorca impeachment managers over trial not starting

What will happen in the impeachment trial of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas? The House impeached Mayorkas on February 13, but no one knows the timing of a Senate trial. Eleven members of the House of Representatives will act as “impeachment managers” and prosecute the case in the Senate. But what about their role and when the Senate trial will begin? Major League Baseball’s new uniform pants are now more transparent.

Some managers expressed frustration with a lack of information about what role they would play in the impeachment trial. One told Fox there was “no clear guidance” on what to expect from the top ranks of the Republican Party.

In late 2019 and early 2020, House Democratic impeachment managers held “mock trials” and engaged in parliamentary gymnastics behind closed doors in preparation for former President Trump’s first impeachment trial. Mayorkas’ manager does not hold such sessions. That’s why at least one impeachment manager feared the Senate would push for the trial to begin immediately. That could make members of the House look foolish and amateurish.

mayorcas

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks to the media to outline security plans for Super Bowl Week at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, February 7, 2024. (Candice Ward/Getty Images)

But a senior aide to the House Republican leadership said senior leadership has briefed all managers, adding that they will be “fully prepared” when the trial begins.

It was thought the Senate could begin the trial as early as Wednesday, but Foxx has been told he does not expect a trial this week. In fact, the impeachment trial could be suspended until lawmakers find a way to fund the government.

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So, this week is still a big hit.

But imagine what would have happened if Mr. Mayorkas’s impeachment trial, the first cabinet impeachment trial since the 1870s, had also taken place.

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