Fighting for Working Families

Understanding Government Shutdowns and Republican-Proposed Harmful Budget Cuts

Government Shutdown – A Repeated Headache

For the last 6 months, a faction of extreme Republicans in Congress has been fighting to include detrimental budget cuts to the government funding bills. These unpopular cuts, disapproved of even by fellow Congressional Republicans, have been holding the House of Representatives hostage, unable to agree on a full government budget, creating increased chaos as the extremists refuse to compromise on a bipartisan budget.

Unpopular Cuts and Prolonged Processes

The cuts proposed by extremist Republicans in Congress target essential programs that everyday families depend on, posing threats to K-12 education, medical research funding, and the safety of clean drinking water. These Republicans simultaneously champion tax handouts for the ultra-wealthy and corporations. Join us and former Biden budget official Michael Linden in the discussion to unravel the intricacies of this political turmoil and understand its significance for each of us.

Explaining Republican-proposed budget cuts and continued shutdown risk

A faction of extreme Republicans in Congress are advocating for budget cuts that could jeopardize programs working families depend on. These cuts are so unpopular that not even their fellow Republicans are willing to get on board -- leading to chaos that has put our government at risk of shutdown for more than 6 months. Learn more about the shutdown risk and the dangerous cuts from former Biden administration budget expert, Michael Linden.

@unrigoureconomy The environment is more than just a landscape; it's our life support system. However, Republican extremists in Congress are endangering its delicate balance with potential cuts. Hear former Biden Administration official Michael Linden's impassioned plea to safeguard our planet. #Climate #environment #fyp ♬ original sound – UnrigOurEconomy

@unrigoureconomy 🔴 Important! Extreme Republicans are threatening cuts to medical research funds. Watch as we explain why this is wrong and how it could hurt your family. #NoCuts #Medical #Medicine #Health #Healthcare #FYP ♬ original sound – UnrigOurEconomy

@unrigoureconomy Gov Shutdown 101: Extreme Republicans, unpopular cuts, and chaos! 🤯 Let’s break down what it means for each of us! #NoCuts #government #budget #family #school #education #taxes #usa #fyp ♬ original sound – UnrigOurEconomy

@unrigoureconomy Education 📚 Cuts 101: Extremist Republicans in Congress are threatening our children’s education and future with harmful budget cuts! Let’s break down what it means for each of us.#NoCuts #Education #Schools #WIC #Food #Budget #USA #FYP ♬ original sound – UnrigOurEconomy

Stand Against Harmful Budget Cuts

Join us in calling on your member of Congress to stand strong against any additional cuts to the budget and pass a 2024 spending bill that preserves the programs that working families rely on.

Write a Letter to Your Member of Congress

Learning about extreme Republicans’ proposed budget cuts!

Read more about the proposed budget cuts and risk of government shutdown from former Biden Administration budget expert, Michael Linden.

Tell us a little about your background and experience in the appropriations and government budget system.

I’ve worked for over 15 years in federal economic policy, with a focus on the federal budget. I served as professional staff on two Senate committees, including the Senate Budget Committee. Most recently, I worked in a senior leadership role at the White House Office of Management and Budget. I helped produce the President’s Budget request and negotiated with Congress on annual appropriations.

Why does Congress need to pass a budget each year?

A lot of the federal government’s basic operations are funded annually, and Congress needs to provide new funding each year, or else those operations, services, and programs will simply stop. This includes everything from national parks to education support to national security. Other important federal programs are separate from this process and don’t require annual Congressional action.

Why has it been so hard for Congress to pass a budget over the last six months?

The big problem these last few months has been that a faction of the House Republican Caucus has been pushing for really harmful cuts to some essential public services. They’ve written draft budget bills that would cut K-12 education funding by 80 percent and cut funding for clean water protections and cancer research. These cuts are not supported by Congressional Democrats or by many other Republicans in the House and the Senate. And in fact, these cuts break the bipartisan agreement that the White House and Congressional Republicans reached in the spring. But these extreme members have been threatening to shut down the government if they don’t get their way. And because they have already successfully ousted one Republican Speaker of the House, the new leadership is trying to keep them happy.

What’s happening right now in the budget process?

The fiscal year began October 1, 2023. By this point last year, Congress had already enacted new funding bills, and the appropriations process was complete. But this year, we are still operating at roughly last year’s levels because Congress keeps passing short-term “continuing resolutions” to keep funding flowing for short bursts. These “CRs” have been necessary because House Republicans have refused to keep their word and stick to the bipartisan budget agreement they reached with the White House last spring. Recently, House Speaker Mike Johnson reached a new agreement with Senate Leader Chuck Schumer. If House Republicans stick to this deal, they should use the next few weeks to write bipartisan bills that can pass both chambers of Congress.

What is the “laddered” continuing resolution I am hearing about? How is it different from the normal process?

Ordinarily, when Congress needs more time to finish the appropriations process, they pass an extension of last year’s funding for a short period of time for all federal agencies. That’s called a “continuing resolution.” This year, Congress passed a continuing resolution that extended funding for two different periods of time. In other words, funding for some agencies runs out a few weeks before the funding runs out for the rest of the agencies. That’s been called a “laddered” CR, but it would be more accurate to simply call it a “staggered” CR.

If Congress doesn’t fund the government by the first deadline, which departments will be affected, and what will it mean for everyday people?

If Congress misses the first deadline, some notable agencies that will be affected include the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Veterans’ Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation. If funding lapses for these agencies, it will disrupt some basic public services and protections that everyday people rely on. For example, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs runs a homeownership assistance program aimed at Native American veterans. If funding stops, that program stops. Similarly, the Office of Rural Development at the Department of Agriculture currently manages loans worth over $230 billion combined. These loans are used by local rural communities and businesses to upgrade infrastructure, utilities, and other services. If funding lapses for the Department of Agriculture, servicing those loans–including allowing borrowers to pay off bridge loans, take out new loans, or adjust the terms of their current loans–would stop. These are just a few examples.

If the government shuts down entirely, what does it mean for everyday people?

Any government shutdown–partial or full–is incredibly disruptive and will hurt everyday people, often in ways that are hard to predict ahead of time. The truth is that the federal government provides essential services and protections to hundreds of millions of people all over the country in thousands of different ways. The longer a shutdown goes on, the more likely it is that something unexpected and critical will break and cause immense harm.

I heard that some extreme Republicans are trying to include harmful cuts to government programs in the spending package. What kinds of programs are they threatening to cut?

This has been the big sticking point since Fall 2023. Despite reaching a bipartisan agreement on overall funding levels, many House Republicans have insisted on much deeper cuts to basic public programs, services, and protections. They want to cut the main source of federal funding for public K-12 schools by 80 percent. They want to cut the program that provides nutritional assistance to low-income pregnant women and infants. They want to cut cancer research funding and funding that local governments use to protect clean drinking water. These are not theoretical cuts, either. They wrote them into their proposed budget bills.

What would these cuts mean for everyday people?

If the budget bills written by House Republicans in 2023 became law, every American would be affected. School districts all over the country would be forced to cut around 200,000 jobs, including teachers. Local water utilities would be stretched more thin and be less able to ensure that their drinking water stays clean. There will be fewer resources for doctors and scientists to study diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, undermining their work toward treatments and cures. Fewer people will be able to afford their rent and their food. Costs for child care for many parents will go up.

And it’s important to note that while resources for these services and programs have increased over the past two years, overall, funding for all of these activities is still below the historical average.

How do these cuts impact Black and Brown communities?

The Republican budget bills would have very painful impacts on Black and Brown communities all over the country. For one thing, many of their proposed cuts target the very public services, investments, and programs that are specifically intended to tear down the longstanding barriers to economic participation and prosperity that are especially acute for Black and Brown Americans. Their bills include cuts to, for example, education funding for schools that have been historically underfunded and economic development for towns and neighborhoods that so often receive little to no private investment. Their bills also directly cut the federal agencies tasked with ensuring that Black and Brown people in this country get a fair shot. They would cut, for example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Minority Business Development Agency.

What can people do about it?

Take action! You can send a letter using our advocacy tool to your Member of Congress asking them not to accept any harmful cuts to important programs people rely on and to accept no conditions on budget bills. Spread the word to your neighbors and friends by sharing our videos on TikTok, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and Facebook.

Spread The Word

Join us in spreading the word about these threatened cuts and send a clear message to Congress: The next budget deal must have no cuts to programs families depend on!