Much of the federal government could shut down on October 1, with far-right members of the House Republican majority unable to come to an agreement on federal funding for the upcoming fiscal year. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rick Scott (R-FL) have been cheering those extremists on.
The House has approved just one of the 12 must-pass appropriations bills needed to keep the government operational each year. Although President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reached an agreement in May, members of the archconservative House Freedom Caucus have refused to allow votes on legislation to fund the government at those levels or on a short-term extension of last year’s spending levels.
After narrowly winning their 2018 reelection races, Cruz and Scott are the most vulnerable Republican Senate incumbents on the ballot in 2024, according to the Cook Political Report. Both sided with the far-right House GOP faction against a bipartisan spending deal.
“Thank God for the @freedomcaucus and all they are doing to ensure Washington does its job and reins in Democrats’ reckless spending,” Scott tweeted on Sept. 12. “Since 2019, the population is up 1.8%, but budgets have grown by 55%. It makes no sense, drives inflation & must be stopped.”
During an appearance at a Freedom Caucus press conference on the same day, he said: “I thank God for what the Freedom Caucus is doing in the House. If they don’t stand up, nobody’s standing up. They stood up on the debt ceiling, and they fought for a great bill. Unfortunately, it didn’t end up that way, but they fought for a great bill. We’ve got to stop this insanity.”
Cruz praised Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy, the Freedom Caucus policy chair and Cruz’s own former chief of staff, for fighting against a compromise.
He told Spectrum News on Monday:
“What Chip is arguing for is that Republicans, who were just given a majority in the House, ought to stand up and fight for the priorities that the people elected them to fight for. I think that’s exactly right.”
“Washington often presents a false choice that either … you have to completely concede to the massive spending, the unprecedented debt that is fueling inflation that is hurting Texans across the state, you either have to completely roll over to the Democrats, or the alternative is a shutdown,” Cruz said, according to Spectrum News. “I don’t think we should have a shutdown.”
While a shutdown would not stop the federal government from carrying out some essential functions, it would have to cease most operations, and federal workers would not get paid.
This would mean older Americans would be unable to file new Social Security claims, that lower-income citizens would be unable to access food aid through the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, veterans would not be able to get services, and food safety inspections would grind to a halt. Recent shutdowns have reduced the nation’s gross domestic product by billions of dollars.
On September 14, the Senate voted 91-7 to begin debate on a three bill “minibus” package to fund the Departments of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, as well as the Food and Drug Administration and military construction, for the next fiscal year. Cruz and Scott both voted against the proposal.
Reprinted with permission from American Independent.