Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Transportation and Veterans Affairs Face Potential Shutdown March 1st


Budget issues could harm local economies of Alamogordo and Los Alamos, New Mexico among other communities across the US (

States such as New Mexico, and communities such as Alamogordo, and Los Alamos, New Mexico have a heavy concentration of retired veterans reliant upon payments from the Veterans Administration. These states and communities in the west have significant contracts with the Department of Energy with large concentrations of workers in areas such as Los Alamos and elsewhere. Each of the states and communities are watching federal congressional budget negotiations as the deadline of March 1st looms near. 

Under the most recent funding agreement, there are now two deadlines for Congress to appropriate more funding to keep federal agencies open. The Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Transportation and Veterans Affairs have until March 1 to get another allocation of funds, while all other federal agencies are funded through March 8, 2024.

The House leadership has sent an ominous warning to his divided caucus of which he is quickly losing control. A shut down would be harmful for at risk districts in the upcoming election cycle.  

AlterNet reports, as Johnson and other top Republican budget negotiators are working through the weekend on a plan that will garner enough votes to pass the chamber, with a deal being announced as soon as Sunday night. The speaker lamented on the Friday night call with other Republicans that the infighting among members of his own caucus has caused Democrats to have more leverage in the ongoing negotiations. The House Speaker, Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) is privately expressing his frustrations with uniting his caucus as a possible government shutdown looms next week.

Politico reported recently that Johnson warned his fellow Republicans that a partial shutdown of some federal agencies may be forthcoming if certain intransigent members of the House Republican Conference don't acquiesce to not getting their way in current negotiations.

Moderate Republicans are quietly working with Democrats to find a solution. Given Johnson‘s now only three-seat majority, conservatives have the power to successfully obstruct any spending deal that comes before the House Rules Committee. So, Republicans are expecting they will have to rely on Democratic votes in taking up a final funding plan using a procedural gambit that requires a two-thirds majority of the House, a procedural maneuver that Johnson has used several times to sidestep his fractious right flank.

Funding negotiators in the Senate the more polished leaders, admit that House Republicans have finally acknowledged what appropriators have said all along; that funding the government requires across-aisle compromise, especially under divided government and in the Senate Democrats and Republicans respect and can work with one another. The contagion of the extremist of the house has not yet infected the respected leaders of the senate. 

Rank and file house members of the Republican extreme that follow the Trumpian philosophy of 'burn it down" are now fighting against institutional leadership that has figured out that the only way to enact any legislation in a divided Congress is on a bipartisan basis of moderate Republicans and Democrats working together.

The public, though, is wary of a shutdown. Polling and past election results from a shutdown show that an overwhelming majority of voters, 90% of voters, including 91% of Democrats and 89% of Republicans, want to avoid a shutdown.

I think the honest result of a government shutdown and many of the other dysfunctional things is not about Republican vs. Democrat, as much as that it continues to contribute to the ongoing outrage and loss of trust that the American people have against and with their government,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget to the Washington Examiner concerning the prior near shutdown. “It looks terrible for everybody. That means people who are already disillusioned with the government have another thing to point to for that feeling, and it signals to our enemies around the world that we are not functioning.”

That thinking still holds true and may cost members seeking re-election their jobs in November. Meanwhile retired veterans reliant on VA payments and workers in cities such as Alamogordo, or Los Alamos, New Mexico and elsewhere, continue to watch, wait and remain wary of what their finances may look like in March 2024 awaiting the government to act.

-Mica Maynard on special assignment reporting from the nation's Capital for and

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