Congress appears to be at an impasse with a government shutdown looming

  • The federal government is set to shut down at midnight.
  • A short-term funding bill passed the House on Thursday, but Senate Democrats and a few Republican senators have signaled they could oppose the measure.
  • Both parties are blaming each other for the impending shutdown, with no clear solution in sight.


Congress began Friday careening toward a partial shutdown of the federal government, as a funding bill appears stalled in the Senate with the two parties divided on key issues.

The Republican-led House on Thursday passed a short-term funding bill that would keep the doors of the government open for another four weeks. But Senate Democrats and a handful of Republican senators have signaled they would oppose the measure. Due to Senate rules, such opposition would make it impossible to get through the chamber.

If no bill passes by midnight, the federal government will enter a partial shutdown, with all nonessential services going into a freeze.

(Read more about what happens in a shutdown»)

 

Senate disagreement on key issues

The bulk of the resistance comes from Senate Democrats. They do not want to pass a short-term funding bill — known as a continuing resolution (CR) — because it does not contain a permanent fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program, which is set to expire in March.

The DACA program protects from deportation roughly 700,000 unauthorized immigrants who entered the US as minors. President Donald Trump announced in September that he would end the program but gave Congress six months to codify the program.

Democrats worry that without attaching the codification to must-pass legislation like the CR, Republicans will not agree to a separate DACA solution.

Some Republicans have also expressed concern with the legislation.

RELATED: 6 ways government shutdowns hurt you

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What Happens During a Government Shutdown?

When a spending bill expires before Congress passes a new bill authorizing spending, the federal government shuts down most operations.

With spending stuck in limbo while all parties come to an agreement, the federal government runs out of money, forcing the closure.

During a government shutdown, essential services carry on. These include national security, law enforcement, emergency medical services, air traffic control and more.

But services considered non-essential stop, which can still affect your everyday life.

5 Things That Could be Tough During a Government Shutdown

Each government shutdown is different, but here are some things that could become more difficult or impossible if federal operations are forced to go on hold.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

1. Planning a Trip to a National Park or Monument

You can’t go to a national park or monument during a shutdown — they’ll be closed. This includes national zoos and museums, too. According to Vox, the 2013 government shutdown cost $500 million in lost tourism income due to national park closures.

(Photo: Zion National Park; Getty)

2. Getting a Passport

During the last shutdown, the State Department continued passport and visa operations because those functions are funded by fees, not government spending. 

We reached out to the National Passport Information Center back in April when the possibility of a shutdown loomed. The representative we spoke to said it’s unclear how a present-day shutdown would affect services, adding that multiple factors go into determining whether you’ll still be able to obtain a passport during a shutdown.

3. Using Free School Lunch Programs

Free school lunch programs will continue during a government shutdown — as long as it doesn’t last too long. If a shutdown goes on for an extended period, school districts might run out of funds to provide the free meals — as some districts worried would occur during the 2013 shutdown.

(Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

4. Signing up for New Social Security Benefits

Social Security benefits will continue going out to existing enrollees, but new applications for benefits may have to wait until after the shutdown to be processed.

5. Buying a Home

If you were planning to use a federal loan, like a Federal Housing Administration-insured loan or a Veterans Affairs loan, to purchase a house, the agencies will still process it — depending on a few factors.

During the 2013 government shutdown, the FHA released an FAQ stating it would still process single-family loans, though it warned that it could take extra time because of a reduced staff. Delays could occur for other reasons, like if you need to obtain documents from the IRS.

Are you a veteran? Thankfully, it’s unlikely that a shutdown would affect your VA loans.

6. Your Tax Refund

And, perhaps, the worst of all, depending on the time of year: If you’re waiting for a tax refund from the IRS and the government shuts down, you’ll have to wait until it reopens to get your money.

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Sens. Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee have bristled at the idea of using another CR to fund the government, because it does not adequately fund defense spending — and its short-term nature leaves the military in limbo. Additionally, Sen. Rand Paul is generally against the CR due to the bill's projected deficit impact.

The CR needs 60 votes to clear a key procedural hurdle in the Senate. So every Republican must vote for the bill, and  — since Sen. John McCain is still receiving treatment in Arizona for a brain tumor — 10 Democrats must also be on board. 

A senior Democratic aide told Business Insider that there are enough votes to prevent the bill from passing.

One possible solution to the impasse would come in passing a CR that only lasts a few days to give both sides time to reach a broader deal on DACA and spending caps.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted in support of an even shorter-term CR late Thursday.

"I support an idea floated by my @SenateGOP colleagues: pass a clean CR for a few days to give us a hard, final deadline & keep both sides at the table," Schumer said. "We’ll reach a deal that fully funds our military & the opioid fight, CHIP, vets, pensions, disaster aid & protects Dreamers."

Additionally, some Republicans advocated for the idea on Thursday.

"I don't know whether we're close to an agreement or far from agreement, but either way this makes sense to keep the government funded and require us to continue negotiations until we reach a conclusion," Sen. Jerry Moran told Business Insider.

GOP Sen. Thom Tillis said he was open to any solution that prevented a shutdown.

"I'm open to anything that actually gets us consensus on the CHIP program and a number of the other things that we're doing," he said. "But I am absolutely not going to be a party to shutting down the government. It doesn't make sense. There's a lot of people at stake."

 

Blame game

The stalemate in the Senate has also ignited early stages of the blame game, with each party pointing a finger at the other side.

Republicans are targeting the Senate Democrats, saying their obstruction is the core problem preventing an agreement from happening.

"Now, it’s up to the Senate. Now will Senator Schumer and the Senate Democrats do the right thing by the American people, or will they force a government shutdown?" House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement Thursday.

In fact, House Republicans have even taken it as far as to start a website schumershutdown.com, to attack the Senate Minority Leader.

Democrats, on the other hand, say that the GOP should have included them their initial discussions, and they point to potential defectors in their own party as evidence the blame should not rest on their shoulders.

RELATED: The Most At-Risk Foods During The Government Shutdown

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The Most At-Risk Foods During The Government Shutdown

The FDA closely watches foods that have exhibited contamination in the past and certain foods have caused more illnesses than others.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Chicken

A recent multi-drug resistant outbreak of salmonella has sickened 278 people in 17 states. The government has recalled the contaminated chicken and issues a public health alert. The Center for Science in the Public Interest believes this could have been stopped more efficiently had the government been operating normally.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Eggs

Salmonella lives in the intestinal tracts of chickens, which is why eggs are at high risk for salmonella contamination. Since eggs have caused a whopping 352 outbreaks and 11,163 reported illnesses, it's important to wash them thoroughly and cook them well.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Metals In Fruit Juice

The FDA once discovered lead and arsenic in fruit juice concentrates from Argentina and China. One eight-ounce serving contained three times the amount of lead said to be safe for children.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Berries

Berries have been the culprit of over 25 outbreaks and caused 3,397 illnesses. Since they have been linked to contamination in the past, it would be smart to take extra precaution.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Bacteria In Cheese

Contaminants like salmonella and E. coli have been found in imported cheeses from all over the world. The FDA also keeps an eye out for nitrates in cheese and other dairy products.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Cocaine In Tea

In 1986, The DEA discovered herbal tea made from “decocainized coca leaves,” which ended up in Hawaii, Georgia, Chicago and other locations on the East Coast. The FDA has been closely monitoring tea ever since.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Imported Seafood

Roughly 80 percent of the seafood we eat is imported, hailing from regions in Southeast Asia, which could have more lax regulatory procedures according to Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Contaminated Supplements

The USDA has prohibited the import of meat from countries with a history of mad cow disease outbreaks; however, this rule doesn’t apply to dietary supplements. The FDA has been keeping a watch for contamination in shipments of supplements.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens have caused 363 outbreaks. 13,568 reported illnesses too, which probably because greens are not cooked at a temperature that would kill off bacteria. Norovirus accounted for 64 percent of the cases and comes from unwashed hands.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Melamine In Milk

The FDA has kept a close watch on milk products from China ever since 2008, when thousands of babies became ill from a contaminated formula. The culprit was a chemical called melamine, which is toxic if swallowed. Keep an eye out for products that list milk as an ingredient like yogurt, frozen desserts, chocolate, cakes, cookies, soft candies and beverages.

Image Credit: Getty Images

The FDA is always hard at work making sure our food supply stays safe. Curious about what else the FDA has recalled recently? Read on for more!

Image Credit: Getty Images

Angel Food Cake

Recently the FDA recalled several Angel Food Cake products because they contained soy and milk allergens. The FDA requires foods with potential allergens to be listed on the item. The FDA was concerned that people with allergies or sensitivity toward milk and soy could have potentially fatal reactions, but no illnesses were reported.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Ready-Made Salads

The FDA discovered Listeria monocytogenes in several ready-to-eat salads, slaw and dips. The organism can cause very serious and potentially fatal infections in young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems, but fortunately no illnesses were reported.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Pork Dumplings

Several frozen pork dumplings were found to contain allergens like shellfish and fish, but no illnesses were brought to the attention of the FDA.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Turmeric

The FDA found unusually high contents of lead -- about 28 parts per million -- in a turmeric spice powder, which they then recalled. High levels of lead are particularly risky to infants, small children and pregnant women.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Almond Butter

Several almond butter products were voluntarily recalled when metallic fragments were found in some items. The recall was more of a cautionary measure and no one was harmed from the fragments.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Ice Cream

When metallic shavings were found in a few ice creams, a voluntarily recalled occurred on several products and the FDA received no reports of illness.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Dietary Supplements

The FDA found traces of Sibutramine in a dietary supplement, which prompted the company to issue a recall. Sibutramine was removed from US Markets in 2010 because it can increase blood pressure and poses risks for individuals with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, stroke or arrhythmias.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Bell Peppers

The FDA found Salmonella in several red and green bell peppers recently and advised a recall. Salmonella can cause serious infections in young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Muffins

Undeclared soy was found in over 4,000 apple-cinnamon muffins. Since soy can cause bad reactions for those with soy allergies, the product was recalled.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Smoked Fish

When it was discovered that several smoked fish items were not cooked properly, all of the products were recalled for fear of Clostridium botulinum contamination. This bacterium can cause illness or even death, but there were no illnesses reported.

Image Credit: Getty Images

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Trump weighs in

Trump weighed in on the impasse using his preferred platform Friday morning.

"Government Funding Bill past last night in the House of Representatives," Trump tweeted. "Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate - but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!"

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The rhetoric is typical of Trump's argument over the past few days, but a good portion of the disagreement between the two parties stems from the president's shifting position on a DACA deal and his "shithole countries" comments during a bipartisan meeting.

The White House said Trump would not depart for his resort at Mar-a-Lago in Florida until Congress passes legislation. That means the president risks missing a party in honor of the one-year anniversary of his inauguration, which will reportedly cost $100,000 for a pair of guests.

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SEE ALSO: Here's what happens if the government shuts down at the end of this week

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