Federal Showdown or Shutdown?

 Congress is facing a budget crisis again. What’s going on here?

PRAY FIRST that God’s will may be accomplished through the federal budget and the programs it funds. 


Federal law requires that the president submit a budget request for the upcoming fiscal year at the beginning of each calendar year. This gives Congress nine months to deal with the appropriations to approve or modify the president’s requests. 

On March 9, President Joe Biden sent Congress his $6.9 trillion federal budget request for fiscal year 2024, which began October 1. On arrival at Congress, the House and Senate began working on their own budget resolutions. After failing to merge the budgets by September 30, Congress passed a continuing resolution to extend the deadline to November 17. Congress is now under pressure to finalize the budget, face a federal government shutdown, or pass another continuing resolution. 


Three weeks ago, President Biden asked Congress for supplemental appropriations, in addition to his budget request, for just over $105 billion, to bolster aid to Israel and Ukraine, as well as to invest more in domestic defense manufacturing, provide humanitarian aid at the U.S.-Mexico border, and provide aid to Taiwan. 

For fiscal year 2024, the House of Representatives has passed appropriations for the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, an appropriation for the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies, and the Department of the Interior. But this still leaves a number of appropriations unfunded and with budgets otherwise not ready to bring to the floor. 

The Senate has passed three appropriations measures, but as Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said, “There is definitely uncertainty with regard to how the House will respond to our strong bipartisan votes on appropriations bills.” She anticipates a short-term continuing resolution, while Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana still claims, “We are going to get the job done.” 

Speaker Mike Johnson on Saturday revealed a two-step proposal that would avert a government shutdown on midnight Friday by creating two new deadlines for Congress…one on January 19 and the remainder on February 2. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said a shutdown cannot be avoided without the cooperation of both political parties and both houses of Congress. 

“I implore Speaker Johnson and our House Republican colleagues to learn from the fiasco of a month ago: Hard-right proposals, hard-right slashing cuts, hard-right poison pills that have zero support from Democrats will only make a shutdown more likely,” Senator Schumer said. “I hope they don’t go down that path in the week to come.” 

The continuing resolution proposed by Speaker Johnson includes no additional funding for Ukraine or Israel, but it does extend key programs under the Farm Bill (which is “must-pass” legislation because it expires at the end of this year). Extending the continuing resolution beyond Christmas relieves Congress of rushed decisions, as many have expressed concerns about the “annual omnibus bills” they seem to pass just before the holiday recess.  

Speaker Johnson said, “This wo-step continuing resolution is a necessary bill to place House Republicans in the best position to fight for conservative priorities.” 

He added, “The bill will stop the absurd holiday-season omnibus tradition of massive, loaded up spending bills introduced right before the Christmas recess. Separating out the continuing resolution from the supplemental funding debates places our conference in the best position to fight for fiscal responsibility, oversight over Ukraine aid, and meaningful policy changes at our Southern border.” 

While most of the legislators have signed onto a continuing resolution to give them more time and avoid a shutdown, there is still strong push-back. 

Responding to the president’s request for the supplemental funding, the House passed an Israel-only measure for $14.3 billion in aid, which both the Senate and President Biden have flatly rejected as “deeply flawed.” Moreover, the aid to Israel was to come from funding already allotted for the Internal Revenue Service, an absolute non-starter in the Senate and White House. 

Political candidates seeking the office of the presidency in next year’s elections have been offering economic programs of their own and criticizing the ballooning of federal spending, “We’re now adding a trillion more every year with no end in sight,” said one. “Our children will never forgive us for this.”


–PRAY FIRST that lawmakers would be wise as they address Speaker Johnson’s proposal for a two-step continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown. The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes early to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5). 
–Pray about areas where there are budget redundancies or where cuts can be made without creating problems for national security or the safety of the American people.  “Know the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds” (Proverbs 27:23). 
–Pray for a greater level of cooperation among the legislators in attending to the essential business of the nation. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). 


  • Pray for Congress to seek God’s wisdom as they evaluate funding options for foreign aid.
  • Pray for God to be at work through the nation’s budgetary negotiations.
  • Pray for federal leaders to seek to lessen the nation’s debt.
  • Pray for God’s hand to be on the lawmakers to be financial responsible in their decision making. 

Sources: APNews, House.gov, USA.gov, Congress.gov, NBC News, Politico, Fox News, Reuters, CNN, ABC NEws


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