The threat of a US government shutdown is looming again due to the stalemate between Democratic and Republican policymakers in Washington. Congress has until Friday evening (local time) to develop a new budget to prevent a so-called shutdown of non-essential government activities.
In October, the House of Representatives approved an increase in the debt ceiling until Friday, December 3. If the ceiling is not raised in time, the country will no longer be able to meet all its financial obligations. In addition, several administrative offices, national parks, museums and dozens of other government departments would then be banned from spending, sending hundreds of thousands of employees on unpaid leave.
The shutdown in the winter of 2018-2019, which was the longest in US history at about five weeks, even affected airport security forces. Despite deep political divisions in Washington, the majority of both Republican and Democratic congressmen hope to avoid a repeat of that scenario, as a shutdown before the holiday season could wreak havoc. According to a report by Oxford Economics, a week of shutdown would cost the US economy about $6 billion.
Several Republicans, including supporters of former President Donald Trump, are refusing to approve the budget because they believe it would help impose vaccine mandates on Americans at the behest of President Joe Biden.
In a statement, the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives, called on their colleagues to “use all procedural tools to deny timely approval of any budget deal that funds vaccine mandates or their enforcement.”
Several Democrats have expressed frustration at the stalemate, especially since the first case of the Omikron variant has now also been confirmed in the United States. “As we head into winter and brace ourselves for the effects of the new virus strain, it would be remiss to shut down the government — just to fight the vaccine designed to boost vaccination rates and save lives,” he said.