The threat of an Oct. 1 government shutdown is closer, after the Senate rejected Friday a continuing resolution passed by the House. Senators plan to take up the stopgap legislation again this afternoon.
Stan Collender, a federal budget expert and a partner at Qorvis Communications, joined the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris to discuss the twists and turns of the budget negotiations.
There are three specific substantive disagreements at the root of the debate: Disaster funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the overall government funding level (which ostensibly was set by the debt-ceiling compromise in August) and for how long the CR will fund operations. Republicans in the House only want to extend funding through the middle of November.
Collender called the the latest round of wrangling — coming after the down-to-the-wire vote on the debt ceiling in August and the near shutdown in April — nearly unprecedented.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like this — where people are tearing down the process or refusing to compromise just because they can, not because they should,” he said.
And despite lawmakers confidently downplaying talk of a shutdown, Collender said the future is still unknown and unpredictable.
“Anybody who tells you they know what’s going to happen is lying,” Collender said. “Even if you think they’re going to do everything possible to avoid it, this is the kind of situation, which is very, very volatile, and all you need is one thing to happen and we could end up having a government shutdown next weekend.”
While Congress could come together and solve the problem, that will likely happen later rather than sooner, he added, likely at the last minute.
“It’s not the best way to run a railroad, let alone a government. It’s a terrible way to run a business … “This is about as frustrating as hell.”
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-8 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.