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Tipsheet

Schumer Shenanigans Send Government Barreling Toward Friday Night Shutdown

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The federal government will shut down Friday night at 11:59:59 if Congress doesn't manage to pass yet another stopgap bill to keep the lights on amid multiple domestic and international crises. 

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In the lower chamber, members are out of town this week after previously passing a temporary measure to fund the government through early March, meaning the ball is now in the Senate's court. There, though, Democrat leaders have hit a bit of a speed bump in what would have normally been a routine kick-the-can-down-the-road vote to keep the government. 

As happens normally, Republicans in the minority are expected to offer amendments to the stopgap bill. This time, those GOP amendments are expected to include another attempt at preventing federal dollars from going to schools and childcare facilities that enforce vaccine mandates and defunding enforcement of the vaccine mandate for federal employees.

Similar efforts were made by Republicans when a similar stopgap measure was considered in December, but their attempt was defeated by a Democrat majority and the funding bill was passed without the provision to defund Biden's vaccine mandate.

But because three Democrats are out of town, some for medical reasons — Senators Ben Ray Lujan (NM), Dianne Feinstein (CA), and Mark Kelly (AZ) — Majority Leader Chuck Schumer doesn't currently have a majority of votes present. That means the GOP amendments have a shot at being agreed to, and ending up in the final funding bill. And there's where there's an issue. 

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If the Senate version of the temporary funding bill doesn't match the House version that was already passed — while the House is out this week — the government would head to a shutdown Friday night.

As Fox News' Capitol Hill whisperer Chad Pergram put it, "there is now a chance of a government shutdown, [but] there is still time to forge an accord." 

Already, Schumer has worked to spin a potential government shutdown as Republicans' fault, an assertion which doesn't jibe with reality. "I dare say Republicans prefer not to have a Republican shutdown," Schumer said earlier this week, then said "Republicans must keep working with us on an agreement to move quickly on a CR." But Schumer is the Majority leader. His party controls the Senate, however narrowly. The clock is ticking, and the predicament he's in is solely due to his own inability to manage the Senate floor and Senate Dems.

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Whether it was overconfidence or an inability to do math, it's Schumer's fault for not having enough of his own caucus present to keep Republicans from passing amendments, something that was entirely predictable. If Republicans have their game together more than Schumer, that's on him. So the clock is ticking, not on a Republican shutdown, but on a Schumer Shutdown.

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