Racing to Avoid a Shutdown, Lawmakers Weigh Skirting Their Own Rules

On Capitol Hill, the only rules that really matter are the ones that a majority of lawmakers are willing to enforce. So as Congress rushes to complete a $1.2 trillion spending package that is all but certain to become law in the next few days, lawmakers are weighing several shortcuts and tricks to avoid a partial government shutdown after midnight on Friday.

Though a brief shutdown over the weekend would not be as disruptive as one that occurs during the workweek, it could still have repercussions.

“If Republicans and Democrats keep working together in good faith to fund the government, then I hope we’re just days away from completing the appropriations process,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said on Wednesday. “The job is not done, but we are very close.”

Here are the ways congressional leaders may have to break, bend or otherwise twist the rules to get the legislation done before 12:01 on Saturday morning, when federal funding for half the government is slated to lapse.

Waiving the 72-hour rule

To begin with, House Republican leaders are almost certain to try to waive a self-imposed rule requiring that lawmakers be given at least 72 hours to review legislation before it comes up for a vote. The rule is a bright line with many House Republican conservatives who say they have been forced many times in the past to vote for huge bills as take-it-or-leave-it propositions without adequate time to digest them, only to later discover objectionable provisions.

“If you’re a Republican planning to vote for this omnibus spending package, you ought to insist on AT LEAST 72 hours to read it because you will own every dollar of increased spending, every disastrous Biden policy this funds,” Representative Bob Good, Republican of Virginia and the leader of the far-right Freedom Caucus, wrote on social media.

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