April 28 deadline to avert federal government shutdown

April 28 deadline to avert federal government shutdown

Amid the posturing and acrimony on Capitol Hill, another deadline is looming. If Congress does not pass a budget by midnight April 28, the nation and especially the Washington area will be faced with a government shutdown. What are the chances of that happening?

As with the failed health care bill, the Republicans in charge of Congress must get buy-in from both Democrats and the conservative Freedom Caucus. How hard do the various participants want to fight over Trumpês budget, with proposals that spur a lot of controversy, including a very expensive border wall with Mexico and a substantial cut in discretionary nondefense spending, a very small part of the budget? How much will Trump insist on those measures?

Nobody in Congress wants a shutdown. But some Democrats say they are getting pressure from constituents to oppose anything Trump proposes. And members of the Freedom Caucus have often shown themselves to be interested in sticking to their principles, too, which could be at odds with the presidentês priorities.

One option is for Congress to pass a short-term bill that keeps spending at current levels, with no opportunity for changes. Itês not anyoneês first choice, but it has happened in the past when not all parties could agree. And lawmakers do not have the entire month to work on it, because of the impending spring recess.

The last government shutdown was in 2013. Workers for federal agencies and contractors stayed home. Federal contractors often lay people off during a shutdown. Even if federal workers are later reimbursed for their lost paychecks, the experience adds an unwanted layer of uncertainty to the area economy and to consumersê spending plans.

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