Quick Washington Update – (well maybe not so quick)

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January 17, 2024 · by COHEAO · Spark Notes

September 29 – Knowing that many of you are reading the news and watching/hearing various news reports about what is happening in Washington. The big question right now is whether there will be a government shutdown. The answer is yes.

The next question is for how long? Well on that there is some disagreement. Most are saying that it will go for several weeks. Others think it will be shorter, possibly less than a week. These folks may be viewing the world through rosy-colored lens.

What is happening? 

Senate – Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has introduced a continuing resolution (CR) in the Senate. It is anticipated the Senate will start to begin debating and possibly pass the bill Saturday. (However, the death of Senator Diane Feinstein (D_CA) may impact that timing.) The bipartisan Continuing Resolution:

  • Extends government funding through November 17.
  • Extends funding to help communities struck by disaster and continues support for Ukraine at a pivotal moment.
  • Provides additional funding for basic operations to ensure student loan servicing as borrowers enter repayment.
  • Prevents critical health statutes from lapsing to ensure funding for community health centers and teaching health centers does not expire.
  • Extends the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) authorities through the end of the calendar year.
  • Ensures federal wildland firefighters will not see a pay cut.
  • Ensures the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will continue to be able to serve the nearly 7 million women and children who rely on it.

Some Senate Republicans have expressed their desire to pass a clean CR, which essentially means they do not want to provide more funding for several of the actions summarized above. In addition, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has indicated he opposes providing additional funds for Ukraine. This will result in the Senate delaying a final vote on the CR until Saturday unless Senators agree to vote sooner.

House – Speaker McCarthy has been struggling to find common ground within his conference. Today, the Speaker brought to the floor a CR that he thought would garner sufficient votes; however, the 21 Republicans opposing the measure with all the Democrats was enough to not allow debate or a vote on the bill. Speaker McCarthy will go back to drawing board. However, a shutdown is now inevitable.

What is going to happen?

No one truly knows. Speaker McCarthy controls the outcome and his actions will determine the length of the shutdown. Speaker McCarthy needs to work with his Members in an attempt to find common ground. He has also expressed considerable frustration with certain Members. When his patience and willingness to work with the more difficult Members of his conference ends, he will likely move a measure that will be agreeable to the Senate – he may even move the Senate measure itself. Any measure agreeable to the Senate will likely result in more Democratic support for the bill than Republican in the House; although, a very large number of Republicans will support it.

What’s at stake?

Politically – Speaker McCarthy, when he moves a measure that has a chance to pass through both Chambers of Congress, as outlined above, will likely face a motion to “vacate the Chair,” which essentially means that they want to oust the Speaker. Problem with that is there no one waiting in the wings that will become Speaker. The House will likely be in the same turmoil as it was at the beginning of the year – voting for the Speaker for several days. The government will be open and operating though.

Education – Generally, higher education will not feel the impact of the shutdown. The federal student loan program will continue to operate – loans will go out and payments will come in. FSA and servicers will be operating with skeleton crews, but operating. Institutions with questions about operations will likely run into long wait times.

Need more? There will be an update on what is happening in Washington during the COHEAO Fall Virtual Workshop, which is happening in less than two weeks. Hear more insights to the above topics and more!!!

SIGN UP NOW! Details below:

When: The afternoons of Wednesday October 11 and Thursday October 12

How do I sign up????

Click here to register.

Click here for the draft agenda.