Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Friday called out far-right House Republicans for taking appropriations bills hostage and risking a government shutdown.
“We cannot afford the brinkmanship or hostage-taking we saw from House Republicans earlier this year when they pushed our country to the brink of default to appease the most extreme members of their party,” Schumer wrote in a Dear Colleague letter sent Friday morning. “Because of what we accomplished last year, our economy is gaining momentum; we cannot afford to jeopardize that progress because MAGA Republicans want to play political games.”
In the 3-page letter, Schumer boasted that the Senate passed all 12 appropriations bills out of committee, nodding at the House’s failure to do the same.
“I want to thank our Chair of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray, for her steadfast leadership and for working on a strong bipartisan basis with Vice Chair Collins to pass all 12 appropriations bills out of committee, some with unanimous support,” Schumer wrote. “To avoid a harmful and unnecessary government shutdown, the House should follow the Senate’s incredible lead and pass their appropriations bills in a bipartisan way.”
The House left for their August recess with multiple appropriations bills still stuck in committee after far-right House Republicans spent weeks before their lengthy recess turning ordinarily uneventful appropriations committee meetings into battles over their party’s manufactured culture wars, abortion restrictions and various other MAGA grievances.
As they stuff bad faith amendments — attacking anything they like to classify as “woke” — into a handful of different bills, MAGA Republicans are also claiming that they want to cut government spending to pre-COVID levels. But instead they are writing bills that won’t pass a Democratic-controlled Senate, slowing down the appropriations process and getting the country one step closer to a potential government shutdown.
In a letter that addressed a wide range of topics, Schumer called for bipartisanship to avoid a shutdown.
“The only way to avoid a shutdown is through bipartisanship, so I have urged House Republican leadership to follow the Senate’s lead and pass bipartisan appropriations bills,” he wrote.
The government is on track to shut down on Oct. 1 if a new budget or stopgap isn’t passed by the end of the month.
The Majority Leader has previously made it clear Senate Democrats are open to a short-term spending bill to avoid a shutdown and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told his caucus in a private call last month that a stopgap bill may be necessary to buy more time. But the same hardliners delaying the appropriations process have already come out against such a measure.
“We hope that our House Republicans will realize that any funding resolution has to be bipartisan or they will risk shutting down the government,” Schumer said in August.
The White House urged Congress to do exactly that on Thursday, as well. They pushed for a short-term measure to keep funding the government until the end of the year, buying time for lawmakers to come to an agreement.
“This is something that Congress can do. They can prevent a government shutdown. They need to prevent a government shutdown,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Thursday.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also addressed the looming shutdown on Wednesday, emphasizing that he predicts lawmakers will have to adopt a short-term deal while they “struggle to figure out exactly what the government’s spending level is going to be.”
“Honestly, it’s a pretty big mess,” McConnell said of the appropriations process during an event in his home state.
Read the full Dear Colleague letter here: