ARLINGTON, Va. — Federal workers should expect a government shutdown, former Rep. Jim Moran says.
“Yes, I do [think there will be a shutdown]. I’m afraid so. We have a dysfunctional legislative branch,” Moran said in an interview.
Moran, a Democrat, retired from Congress this year after 12 terms representing Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County.
“I’m afraid we’re going to shut it down, over Planned Parenthood mostly, but we can’t get them together,” Moran says.
Some Republicans in Congress have called for the GOP-led House to refuse to pass a budget that allows any federal money to go to Planned Parenthood following videos from an abortion opponents group. That group says the videos show Planned Parenthood staff discussing the sale of fetal body parts. Planned Parenthood says that is not the case, and only a few of its affiliates provide fetal tissue to researchers who cover the costs of obtaining and transporting it.
There are separate debates and political considerations that could factor into a standoff that are tied to the Iran nuclear deal, the now-expired Export-Import Bank, the debt ceiling and sequestration.
Based on a deal to resolve the 2011 debt-ceiling debate, the next round of sequestration cuts are set to automatically take effect Oct. 1 unless a deal is reached to avoid them.
With so many service members and defense contractors in the D.C. region, local leaders have warned the regional economy could take a significant hit if the military spending cuts go through as scheduled. The cuts would apply equally to many nondefense programs.
The current federal funding bill runs out at the end of the month, which means the government would shut down like it did in 2013 if no new budget or continuing resolution is signed into law. The 2013 shutdown, largely tied to opposition to President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, lasted 16 days.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., remembers the last shut down well.
“I’m very concerned. I remember two years ago, this time, Speaker Boehner, the Republican leader, said they weren’t going to shut down the federal government and then a few weeks later they did,” says Van Hollen, who is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and represents Maryland’s 8th District.
Van Hollen says he fears more of the same this time around.
“Ted Cruz and the Tea Party folks who shut it down two years ago to try and kill the Affordable Care Act are now talking about shutting it down to defund women’s health programs like Planned Parenthood,” he adds.
Congress is also facing a separate late-October deadline to fund highway and transportation construction and repairs.
“I’ve talked with all of the appropriators, and they don’t know how we’re going to get past this,” Moran says. “The best we can do is a continuing resolution, which is really disappointing. … but nobody has a way out of it right now.”
WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report.