Three reasons an all-hands-on-deck meeting with Biden might not be enough to stop a government shutdown

President Joe Biden called a meeting with congressional leaders Tuesday to discuss a path forward as lawmakers brace for a potential government shutdown at the end of this week.

The meeting on Tuesday is supposed to help all sides come together to find an agreement that will keep key parts of the government funded and avoid a partial shutdown. Despite bringing the top congressional leaders together at the White House, it might be too late in the game to put the spending train back on the rails.

Here are three reasons why Biden’s last-minute effort might be too little too late.

The House is still on recess 

The House headed home for a 12-day recess on Feb. 15 and isn’t set to return until Feb. 28, just three days before they will need to pass legislation in order to avert a partial government shutdown. While the lower chamber approved a continuing resolution to extend the deadline for passing bills on Jan. 18, House leaders may need to pass another stopgap funding bill to keep the government in operation beyond the looming March 1 shutdown deadline. 

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) mentioned the possibility of passing another stopgap funding bill to extend deadlines for another week or so in a conference call last week, though he is reluctant to have to do so, NBC News reported. Such an approval would likely be met with resistance from hard-line House Republicans who oppose the bill. 

The first set of spending bills in jeopardy of not being approved for funding are departments for Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Energy. Funding for other government agencies is set to expire a week later on March 8.   

The House Freedom Caucus is demanding hard-line policy riders

The House Freedom Caucus, a group of House Republicans, is putting pressure on Johnson to tack on conservative proposals to legislative bills, which House Democratic leaders warned Johnson in a letter last week will create “obstacles” in passing appropriations bills in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

In a letter to his Democratic colleagues on Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) warned them of the potential harms of a government shutdown caused by hard-liners within the GOP. 

​​“This is not a time for petty politics,” Johnson said in a statement in response to the letter. “House Republicans will continue to work in good faith and hope to reach an outcome as soon as possible, even as we continue to insist that our own border security must be addressed immediately.”

Confusion about Johnson’s safety as speaker is sucking up oxygen 

Johnson could also be facing a similar fate as his predecessor, former Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted from the speakership last year. 

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Hard-line Republicans have threatened motions to vacate the speaker if he passed a spending deal that included funding to Ukraine and Israel and passed another stopgap funding bill. In January, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) threatened Johnson’s removal if he negotiated a deal with Democrats. This was followed by Rep. Chip Roy’s (R-TX) warnings as he expressed his disappointment with government spending to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins last month. 

“We don’t have to trade $60 billion for Ukraine for our own country’s border security,” Greene told reporters in January. “That is a failing, losing strategy, and I will never support it. I’ll fight it as much as possible, even if I have to go so far to vacate the chair. And there’s others that agree with me.”

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