Four months after the country nearly defaulted on its national debt, The US Congress should pass the 2024 budget bill before Sunday, October 1, to avoid government paralysis.

The United States is once again facing the possibility of a budget paralysis that would halt the operation of public services and push thousands of federal state officials into technical unemployment if lawmakers cannot agree on a budget bill, with military aid to Ukraine in the midst the month. the problem.

The The first victims of the mess would be about two million federal employees who would not receive their salaries. as long as the so-called ‘shutdown’ or closure of public services continues.

Just over a year before the presidential elections in which Democratic President Joe Biden will be re-elected, tensions in Congress are reaching a peak.

“Funding the government is one of Congress’s fundamental responsibilities. It’s time for Republicans to do the job America elected them to do,” Joe Biden launched on Saturday.

Refusal to help Ukraine

The White House fired off another round of criticism on Monday, accusing “Republican radicals in the House” of risking “jeopardizing vital food assistance for nearly seven million vulnerable women and children” and “playing with people’s lives.” . The thing is A paralysis of public services would reduce this federal spending.

Tensions between Democrats and some Republicans center on an additional aid package for Ukraine, following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Washington last Thursday.

Both parties in the Senate are supportive of this aid. But in the opposition-controlled House of Representatives, a group of pro-Donald Trump lawmakers are refusing to cast their votes.

“I will not vote a cent for the war in Ukraine. “I am for the United States first and foremost,” said Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, close to Trump.

“People in my district, and across the country, are tired of funding others,” said Rep. Eli Crane.

Recurring tensions in every period

This budget vote in Congress regularly turns into an arm-wrestling match, with public services in the middle of the battle to win concessions from the other side. Generally, the case is resolved at the last minute.

But this year, these recurring tensions are being exacerbated by polarization in Congress.

US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to reporters at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on September 26, 2023 about the future of the government budget. Photo: AFP

In the Senate, the leaders of both parties, Chuck Schumer for the Democrats and Mitch McConnell for the Republicans, two veterans of politics, continue to negotiate.

“We are both very supportive of aid to Ukraine,” Schumer, who expressed himself as “very, very optimistic,” told CNN on Friday.

In a note published on Monday, rating agency Moody’s stressed that failure to reach an agreement would highlight the “weakness of US governance and institutions on fiscal policy” and could “negatively impact debt levels.” sovereign. Moody’s is the only agency that maintains the maximum AAA rating for the sovereign debt of the largest world power.

Without an agreement, Congress could adopt a preliminary budget project, which would give lawmakers a few months to reach a more definitive understanding.

“We need to lock ourselves in an office and solve the problem,” Republican lawmaker Tony Gonzales summarized Sunday. “I don’t want a shutdown, but for me it is real that the country is heading for that situation and everyone has to prepare,” he summarized.

Likely consequences

The foreseeable consequences of a disagreement without resolution before October 1 include food aid checks not reaching their destination; air traffic may be disrupted; national parks would be left without maintenance; “Non-essential” civil servants should stay home and not receive pay until the problem is resolved.

The United States has had four major shutdowns since 1976. The last and longest lasted more than a month, from late 2018 to early 2019, and cut US GDP by $3 billion, according to the US Budget Office Congress (CBO). (JO)