Las Vegas Sun

May 27, 2024

The Policy Racket

Harry Reid critical of GOP over threat of government shutdown

Sen. Harry Reid has been sounding the alarm about the potential of a government shutdown, but now it’s looking more likely to happen.

The government has been operating since October 1, 2010 -- the beginning of fiscal year 2011 -- under a series of continuing resolutions: budgets where Congress simply re-ups funding for programs at previous years’ levels, with a tweak here and there, but usually no major changes.

But the latest continuing resolution expires March 4, and right now, both the House and Senate are on their annual Presidents Day weeklong vacation.

That leaves one week when they get back for Republicans in the House and Democrats in Senate to iron out their differences over a 300-plus page bill that just passed the House on Saturday, after lawmakers debated more than 100 amendments to it.

“It is time to drop the threats and ultimatums, and work together on a path forward. I am asking Speaker Boehner to simply take the threat of a government shutdown off the table,” Reid said in a statement today. “It would be the height of irresponsibility to shut down the government without any negotiations, as Republicans are threatening to do. A shutdown could send our fragile economy back into a recession, and mean no Social Security checks for seniors, less funding for border security and no paychecks for our troops.”

But Reid’s office hasn’t announced how long it would want a continuing resolution to be. The fiscal year is already almost half over, and attentions on Capitol Hill are already turning toward fiscal 2012, now that President Obama’s budget request for next year is on the table.

So while Reid might see a short-term continuing resolution -- with about $40 billion in cuts for the present fiscal cycle that the two parties agreed to last year -- as being a way to buy time to negotiate, the Republicans may be seeing it as a move designed to avoid talking about $100 billion, that being the number Boehner and his compatriots in the House want to see stripped out in the present year.

They say making serious cuts now is the only way to show the government is serious about reigning in a skyrocketing national debt.

Some House freshmen have already threatened to vote “no” for any proposal, even a very short-term one, that doesn’t deliver the $100 billion in cuts they’re demanding.

It’s that cohort that appears to be hardening Boehner’s message, leading Republican leadership from their stance a month ago, when they were scoffing at the idea of a full-out shutdown, to today, where a shutdown seems so likely that the two parties are already pointing blaming fingers across the aisle.

Should the government shut down, here's what would happen in Nevada:

- almost 400,000 Nevadans could stop receiving Social Security checks

- more than 275,000 could lose Medicare coverage

- nearly 250,000 could lose Medicaid coverage

- nearly 250,000 veterans, as well, would stop receiving their benefits

- more than 10,000 military employees, and almost 40,000 federal employees and retirees, would stop receiving their checks

And if the shutdown persists, tax refunds would be delayed for the nearly 1 million Nevadans who receive them every year.

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