The broken-down House of Representatives is heading into a fourth week of chaos and civil war, a limbo in which it can’t take any votes other than to elect a new speaker. That means the work they were supposed to be doing to pass the remaining eight appropriations bills isn’t happening, much less anything else.
The last thing they accomplished was the bipartisan continuing resolution that sparked extremists to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The funding in that resolution expires on Nov. 17, which was supposed to have given the House and Senate both time to finish all 12 appropriations bills and work out the differences between them so everybody could enjoy a long holiday season with no crises. Not that that was going to happen—the Republican House and Democratic Senate are far enough apart on everything from GOP poison-pill amendments to basic funding levels that the November deadline was already far too ambitious.
At this point, having the government fully funded by the end of the year is likely a pipe dream. Considering how things are going in the Republican House right now, it’s possible the government could be operating on CRs for the rest of this congressional term, with government shutdown threats constantly looming. That possibility is only slightly lessened with the failure of Freedom Caucus maniac Rep. Jim Jordan becoming speaker.
Not having certainty that the government will keep functioning is bad for the economy. But of course there’s a lot more that’s not getting done while House Republicans fight it out with each other, and that’s bad for everything, including national and global security.
The Biden administration just asked for $105 billion in military aid for Ukraine and Israel and for funds to address “the global humanitarian impacts of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and of Hamas’ horrific attacks on Israel, including by extending humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza.” The request also includes funding to address border security here, and $7.4 billion in funding for Taiwan.
“The world is watching and the American people rightly expect their leaders to come together and deliver on these priorities,” Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young wrote to interim Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry. “I urge Congress to address them as part of a comprehensive, bipartisan agreement in the weeks ahead.” As of now, McHenry doesn’t have the power to do anything about that, and the world is watching as the House flails.
So are regular Americans. That includes the powerful agriculture industry and the millions of people who rely on federal food assistance programs. One of the casualties of House Republican infighting is the farm bill. It was supposed to be reauthorized by Sept. 30, but that didn’t happen. That means the authority for a bunch of programs—including crop insurance, nutrition programs such as SNAP, rural development funds, and agricultural research and conservation programs—has expired. Those programs, like SNAP, that rely on appropriations can keep going as long as funding continues, but other programs in the bill have a hard deadline at the end of the year. That’s going to have to be another can kicked down the road, a casualty of the GOP civil war.
The chaos in the House is an ongoing threat to both economic and national security and to national and global stability. That’s undoubtedly exactly what “sedition-backing, fascism-promoting, pardoned criminal Steve Bannon” was aiming for when he goaded Rep. Matt Gaetz and other extremists into creating this speaker crisis in the first place. That and the grift.
Which puts us right back where we’ve been since Republicans took the House over in January: needing enough Republicans to act like legitimate lawmakers and patriots and ally with Democrats for a coalition Congress. Throughout the entirety of this current crisis, Democrats have remained united behind leader Hakeem Jeffries and his outreach to Republicans.
“Over the past several weeks, when it appeared likely that a motion to vacate the office of speaker was forthcoming, House Democrats repeatedly raised the issue of entering into a bipartisan governing coalition with our Republican counterparts, publicly as well as privately,” Jeffries wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post on Oct. 6. That invitation still stands.