With less than two weeks until the government shutdown deadline, Congress faces a steep hurdle to keep the government fully-funded. Unless a funding agreement is reached, a number of federal agencies will be forced to close their doors and place thousands of government employees on unpaid leave.
Much of the stalemate between the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democrat-controlled House has centered on border security. President Trump and Republican lawmakers have repeatedly called for increased funding for a wall along the Mexican border, while Democratic lawmakers have been unwilling to support such measures.
The House recently passed a funding package that included conditional money for border security, but the Senate is expected to reject this bill when it comes up for a vote later this week. This means that both sides will need to come to an agreement on funding levels – or at least accept a short-term extension – before a government shutdown occurs.
Despite the looming deadline, both sides appear to be dug in on their respective positions. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has declared that Congress will not pass any government-funding bill that includes money for a wall, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has insisted that no bill will pass without it.
The resulting impasse is causing widespread uncertainty among government workers and all who rely on their services. Hundreds of government agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service, small business lending, and agricultural programs, are at risk of being shuttered in the event of a shutdown.
It remains to be seen whether Congress will be able to reach a funding agreement before the shutdown deadline arrives. Both sides have their own convictions and are unwilling to budge, meaning it could come down to the wire to avert a government shutdown. It will take an extraordinary effort by both houses of Congress to ensure that the government remains funded and operational in the coming weeks.