PNS Daily Newscast - April 3, 2020 

Son-in-law Jared Kushner takes on a major role in Trump's fight with COVID-19. Also, emergency funding for people who can't pay their rent because of the pandemic.

2020Talks - April 3, 2020 

The Democratic National Committee delayed its July convention in Milwaukee until August. Wisconsin has a primary this Tuesday, but hasn't cancelled or delayed in-person voting like many other states have done.

Congressional Budget Dramas Could Become Shutdown Standoffs

Several looming Congressional budget battles could turn into shutdown standoffs. Graph by National Priorities Project
Several looming Congressional budget battles could turn into shutdown standoffs. Graph by National Priorities Project
October 5, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. - A government shutdown has been delayed at least until December, but a number of budget fights remain. Shutdowns pose a significant threat to Virginia's economy, due to the many federal offices and employees.

A temporary agreement over funds for Planned Parenthood delayed the shutdown, but battles over automatic spending cuts and a federal debt limit are warming up. Lindsay Koshgarian, research director with budget watchdog National Priorities Project, says those could turn into shutdown standoffs. And the Planned Parenthood issue could return.

"There are about 30 members of the House of Representatives who have said that it is so important to them to completely defund Planned Parenthood," says Koshgarian. "That they would be willing to shut down the entire federal government to get that."

Koshgarian says Planned Parenthood gets only a tiny sliver of the budget and isn't the only issue where the budget deadlines have been used for leverage, issues like immigration and healthcare reform.

Koshgarian says a two-year agreement over automatic spending cuts known as sequestration has expired. She says that threatens funding for the military, education, highways and bridge repair and she says if Congress doesn't raise the federal debt limit, money for everything could dry up.

"But that's expected to happen sometime over the next month or two," says Koshgarian. "If that does happen, that would mean the federal government would be unable to borrow any more money and that could also result in a shutdown of a lot of essential government services."

Critics say using the budget for leverage creates a self-inflicted crisis. They say there are issues Congress should be dealing with such as a highway trust fund that's running out of money. Michael Cassidy, president with The Commonwealth Institute, says Virginia is especially vulnerable because it's dependent on military contracts and federal employees.

"Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress and endless skirmishes over something as simple as passing an annual budget, continues to be the single biggest threat to the economy here," says Cassidy.

The tactic led to a 17-day shutdown in 2013. Standard and Poors says that shutdown cost the U.S. economy an estimated $24 billion.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA