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McConnell to Scripps News: We're not going to shut the government down

McConnell's comments come as Congress works to secure a funding agreement by Friday to avoid a partial government shutdown.
McConnell to Scripps News: We’re not going to shut the government down
Posted at 4:11 PM, Feb 26, 2024

Lawmakers are returning to Washington this week with a major to-do item to prevent yet another government shutdown.

If Congress can't reach a funding agreement by Friday, funding for several key departments, such as the departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs, will run out late that day. The rest will expire next Friday.

With only a few days before the deadline, there's still no clear path on if and how lawmakers will come to an agreement, as talks on a compromise fell through Sunday. President Joe Biden is meeting with the top four congressional leaders to discuss funding on Tuesday.

After meeting in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's office to discuss funding matters on Capitol Hill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell conveyed his assurance that Republicans would not initiate a government shutdown. Speaking to Scripps News, McConnell stated firmly, "No, we’re not going to shut the government down," when asked about the possibility.

On the Senate floor, McConnell reiterated his comment by saying, "Shutting down the government is harmful to the country and it never produces positive outcomes on either policy or politics. What’s more, a shutdown this week is entirely avoidable.”

Meanwhile, amidst this high-profile battle between Speaker of the House Mike Johnson and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Schumer issued a letter to Senate Democrats, acknowledging delays in legislation due to the need for House Republicans to resolve their internal matters.

“As we return this week, we will once again face the specter of a harmful and unnecessary government shutdown caused by an extreme wing within the Republican Party,” said Schumer. “While we had hoped to have legislation ready this weekend that would give ample time for members to review the text, it is clear now that House Republicans need more time to sort themselves out.”

Johnson responded to Schumer, saying that the letter was not productive and that the House has been working nonstop to reach an agreement.

“Leader Schumer’s letter fails to mention that many of the points still being debated come from new Democrat demands that were not previously included in the Senate bills,” Johnson said. “At a time of divided government, Senate Democrats are attempting at this late stage to spend on priorities that are farther left than what their chamber agreed upon.”

With a March 1 and March 8 deadline looming, the government needs to find funding fast to avoid a partial shutdown. If they don't, parts of agriculture, food stamps, transportation, and housing could take a hit, hurting the American people and plunging the US further into debt at the same time.

SEE MORE: Biden calls Congress leaders to White House for Ukraine, funding talks

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