Montana legislators discuss looming government shutdown

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 10:53 AM CDT
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HELENA, M.T. (KUMV) - Congress has less than two weeks to come up with a funding agreement, or else they will shut down.

Every year, Congress must pass 12 appropriations bills that determine funding for various government agencies over the next fiscal year. If the bills aren’t completed, those agencies must close. Sometimes, a “Continuing Resolution” (CR) is passed to extend the deadline and keep agencies open.

All 12 bills have passed the Senate Appropriations Committee with the first three up for a full floor debate.

The first package includes funding for Military and Veterans Affairs, Agriculture and FDA, and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-MT, says they need to work hard to avoid a shutdown.

“I do know time is a challenge to get them all done. If we do end up in a CR it will be a very, very short one. We need to continue to work hard and get things done. So far, the Senate’s on a good path,” said Tester.

Tester says a shutdown would be disastrous for states like Montana and North Dakota, since they rely on ag programs and Medicare.

Sen. Steve Daines, R-MT, says he doesn’t want to see a shutdown. He wants Congress to address wasteful spending instead of pushing for a CR.

“These most recent forecasts that we saw now show our deficit for this year is going to be two trillion dollars. This is unacceptable and that’s why you are going to see a very spirited debate between Republicans and Democrats about what to do going forward here,” said Daines.

Daines says the first step to cut spending is to know where the money is being spent. He argues that more resources need to go to securing the southern border and stopping the flow of fentanyl from Mexico.

Meanwhile, the House is battling as Republicans are divided over passing a continuing resolution.

Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-MT, said he refuses to support a CR, and wants Congress to focus on passing the appropriation bills.

“This is simply another ploy by the DC cartel to continue Nancy Pelosi’s budget and Joe Biden’s policies. We were assured in January that we weren’t going to use the Democrats’ gimmicks to fund the government and that we would deliver the 12 appropriations bills, thereby funding the government responsibly and transparently, which is why I will be voting against the CR this week. I am fully prepared to dedicate the time and effort necessary to help develop the 12 appropriations bills,” said Rosendale in a statement.