Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and several other lawmakers reacted to the possibility of a government shutdown due to a lack of agreement within Congress on funding, saying that it would be up to the House majority.
On Sept. 14, Mr. Van Hollen was questioned by The Epoch Times on Capitol Hill about the possibility of a shutdown. “It’s up to [Rep. Kevin] McCarthy,” he said.
Members of the Senate and House of Representatives face a Sept. 30 deadline to debate, amend, and pass 11 major spending bills before conference committees can be appointed to iron out differences, gain approval from both chambers, and send the bills to the president for signature.
If they fail to pass any of the 11 measures, the government will run out of funds on Oct. 1 and be forced to close down. Few in the nation’s capital believe the deadline will be met.
Speaking to reporters on the same day, Mr. Rubio said he was “not in favor of shutdowns” but pointed out that some contentious issues, such as border security, could bring debate to a halt as Republicans consider those issues a necessary part of any funding package.
“I think what the question becomes [is] who shut down the government? The people who refuse to enforce immigration or the people who insist that we do something. … Sure, I’m worried about it, but we can only control what happens on this end.”
Democrats Blame House GOP
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) addressed a potential shutdown, asserting that the possibility was evidence that the Republican House leadership wasn’t doing its job properly.
“You have the house in such disarray that they can’t even pass a defense appropriation bill, something that used to be their bread and butter,” Mr. Schumer said in a Sept. 14 press briefing.
The Democrat leader asserted problems were spreading to the Senate in the form of a group of senators who were “all of a sudden … trying to mimic the Freedom Caucus in the House and holding up the defense bill which had huge bipartisan support.
“Our Republican leaders have to reject this matter on public lands for the good of the country and for the good of their party,” Mr. Schumer said.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) also had harsh words for Republicans, saying he feared a shutdown was coming, but what is “even more frustrating” is that, according to the lawmaker, “we have members on their side who welcome a shutdown.”
Mr. McGovern used the example of Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), a member of the House Freedom Caucus who has indicated he is willing to accept the shutdown to reach his party’s budgetary goals.
The Massachusetts Democrat said that Mr. McCarthy was being controlled by people who don’t care whether a shutdown happens or not.
Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) responded to questions on the issue, saying lawmakers needed to be more concerned with upcoming generations rather than upcoming elections.
Mr. Marshall’s comments were in response to a question by The Epoch Times about whether he believes the House Freedom Caucus is correct in using the defense appropriations bill as leverage to cut nondefense spending.
“The No. 1 long-term threat to our nation is our national debt,” Mr. Marshall said. “We are spending $2 trillion more this year than we’re taking in revenue; we’re going to spend $700 billion this year on interest. … Balancing our budget is what we need to stay focused on.”
Jackson Richman and Mark Tapscott contributed to this report.