Congress votes to avoid government shutdown

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 10:29 PM ET, Thu December 2, 2021
3 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
9:55 a.m. ET, December 2, 2021

Congress also has a debt ceiling deadline looming

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc and Brian Rokus

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen estimates that the government will run out of money on Dec. 15, an extension from the previous deadline of Dec. 3.

"There are scenarios in which Treasury would be left with insufficient remaining resources to continue to finance the operations of the U.S. Government beyond this date," Yellen said of the new deadline in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Nov. 16.

(Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
(Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

While the pushed deadline gives lawmakers some additional time to address the debt ceiling, it remains unclear how Democrats will proceed after Republican leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have repeatedly stated they will not help with legislation to raise the limit.

Republicans have insisted that Democrats must act alone to address the debt limit through a process known as budget reconciliation, which would require no GOP support for passage.

Democrats, however, have argued the issue is a bipartisan responsibility.

While Democratic leaders have publicly dismissed the possibility of using reconciliation — arguing the process is too lengthy and unwieldy and that the risk of miscalculation would be too high — it could be the only way to address the issue without changing the filibuster, which Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has repeatedly opposed.

The looming December deadline comes after Congress approved an extension of the nation's debt limit in October following dire warnings from Yellen about the economic fallout that would ensue if the issue went unaddressed.

3:03 p.m. ET, December 2, 2021

Here's what could happen if the government shuts down

From CNN's Daniella Diaz and Betsy Klein

(Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
(Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Congress could be barreling toward another government shutdown at midnight on Friday if Republicans and Democrats don't pass a bill to fund the government by then.

This isn't the first time the government has shut down because of Congress' inability to negotiate a funding package. The last time the government shut down was in December 2018 — a standoff that ended in January 2019 after then-President Donald Trump conceded to a funding package that didn't include the billions of dollars in border wall funding he spent more than a month demanding.

A lot of details are still up in the air of how a government shutdown could play out, but protocols set by the Office of Management and Budget shed some light.

The OMB oversees implementation of the executive branch's initiatives and is in charge of alerting government employees about a government shutdown. Even before the government shuts down because of disarray in Congress, the OMB has plans in place for every government department and agency, all of which are laid out in significant detail on its website.

These specific plans include information on how many employees would get furloughed, which employees are essential and would work without pay (for example, air traffic controllers, Secret Service agents and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory staff), how long it would take to wind down operations in the hours before a shutdown and what activities would come to a halt.

Some departments — such as the Department of Defense, the State Department and the Department of Labor — need at least half a day to prepare for a shutdown.

The military is considered essential and would still report for duty. However, the troops — including those in combat — could potentially not be paid during a shutdown.

Also expected: If the shutdown continues through the weekend, many civilian Department of Defense employees might not be working, including instructors at military academies and maintenance contractors.

If the shutdown goes on for weeks, more than 2.14 million active-duty military will be expected to work potentially without pay. The military is currently paid through Feb. 1.

The shutdown would also affect the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, meaning if you wanted a gun permit, you'll have to wait until the shutdown is over.

Essential services, such as Social Security, air traffic control and the Transportation Security Administration, will continue to be funded even if some employees of those agencies are not.

And the US Postal Service won't stop serving residents — expect your mail to continue through the weekend.

Read more about the impacts here.

9:07 a.m. ET, December 2, 2021

Congress is scrambling to avert a shutdown tomorrow. Here's where things stand.

From CNN's Daniella Diaz and Manu Raju

Congressional leaders unveiled a plan Thursday that would keep the federal government funded into mid-February, but it's unclear if the deal would be enough to avoid a rapidly approaching government shutdown on midnight Friday.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, announced the latest plan, which would go through February 18, and the House is expected to vote as soon as Thursday, though the real issue for quick passage is in the Senate.

The only way to avoid a shutdown is for all 100 senators to agree to schedule a vote before the deadline, and some Senate Republicans have threatened to hold up the bill over President Joe Biden's vaccine mandates.

While lawmakers are confident that they can ultimately prevent a prolonged shutdown, a brief shutdown over the weekend, or extending into next week, remains a possibility.

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also said negotiators had reached a deal, though it was unclear as of Thursday morning if the agreement meant that all 50 members of the GOP conference supported quick passage.

"I'm pleased that we have finally reached an agreement on the continuing resolution," Shelby said. "Now we must get serious about completing FY22 bills. I have said many times that work can only begin if we agree to start FY22 where we finished FY21. That means maintaining legacy riders, eliminating poison pills, and getting serious about the funding we are going to provide for our nation's defense. If that doesn't happen, we'll be having this same conversation in February."

Separate from the vaccine issue, Democrats had wanted to extend funding only into January, a concession DeLauro acknowledged in her statement.

"To build pressure for an omnibus, the CR includes virtually no changes to existing funding or policy (anomalies)," DeLauro said in the announcement. "However, Democrats prevailed in including $7 billion for Afghanistan evacuees. The end date is February 18. While I wish it were earlier, this agreement allows the appropriations process to move forward toward a final funding agreement which addresses the needs of the American people."