Durbin on potential government shutdown: ‘I don’t know what to think’ 

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-III.), the number two Democrat in the Senate, said Sunday he “doesn’t know what to think” over a potential government shutdown if Congress is unable to pass funding bills or come to a short-term resolution by Friday.

When asked by CNN’s “State of the Union” co-anchor Dana Bash if he expects the government to shut down, Durbin said, “I don’t know what to think.” 

“I can tell you this – there is one clear point that we should remind everyone of,” Durbin said. “The solution to this problem, funding our government, the critical services, depends on a bipartisan approach, Democrats and Republicans working together.” 

Durbin pointed to the initial debt deal earlier this summer made between President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), arguing that agreement needs to be “the starting point of our conversation.” 

Infighting among House Republicans has McCarthy struggling to pass a temporary funding measure before the federal government runs out of funds on Friday. Last week, McCarthy and other GOP leaders tried to pass a rule on a short-term stopgap bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to extend government funding past the deadline, but were met with opposition within his conference.

Conservatives are demanding lower funding levels across all 12 appropriations bills, 11 of which the House has yet to pass, as well as certain border policy changes. Some members have said they will not support a short-term stopgap at all. 

Pressed over if he would support additional border security in any bill, Durbin said, “I agree that we need to put more thinking and resources into the border to bring order to the chaos that’s there.”

Bash then said it sounded like Durbin might be okay with additional funding for the border, to which Durbin responded “Well, I’m not going to single-shot any one item that needs to be there, or else. I think that’s the wrong approach to use.” 

“We’re talking about a continuing resolution to keep the lights on in the government, so while we debate the appropriation bill for the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, so I’m not going to say it’s a requirement for any element to be included,” Durbin said. “Let’s sit down on a bipartisan basis and pass a continuing resolution.” 

Durbin also pointed to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which advanced all 12 funding bills in July of the first time in years but those bills have since stalled in that chamber.

Over the next week, Republicans will work to pass four of their 12 full-year government funding bills, then make another go at a short-term stopgap bill to prevent a shutdown. 

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