President Joe Biden’s White House accused Republicans in Congress on Wednesday of marching the U.S. into a shutdown that it said would disrupt air travel, slow access to loans for small businesses, delay infrastructure projects and damage the economy.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has struggled to corral his GOP members to agree on key spending bills to fund the operations of the federal government as far-right representatives demand deeper spending cuts .
If the GOP-led House fails to reach an agreement by September 30, thousands of government workers will be forced to stay home bringing to a halt operations of several U.S. government agencies.
“Extreme House Republicans are consumed by chaos and marching our country toward a government shutdown that would damage our communities, economy, and national security,” the White House said on Wednesday.
The Biden administration said a shutdown will force air traffic controllers and Transportation Security Administration officers to work without pay, which could lead to delays for travelers and “longer wait times for travelers at airports across the country like there were during previous shutdowns.”
In 2019, a halt in government operations hampered air travel and disrupted the travel plans of thousands of Americans.
In addition to delays at airports, the White House also said that a shutdown would force the Small Business Administration to pause extending capital to small businesses.
“The Small Business Administration would not accept, review, or approve any new business loans—including SBA’s primary loan to small businesses—cutting off an important source of funding for small businesses across the country,” the White House said.
Newsweek has reached out to the office of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy via email for comment.
Elsewhere, delays in the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Interior environmental checks would bog down federal infrastructure projects.
“No [United States Department of Agriculture] loans or grants would be made for modernizing utilities infrastructure in rural America, including permitting actions for rural electric transmission and broadband projects,” the White House insisted.
Analysts say that a shutdown would be costly and eat into economic growth by up to 0.2 percentage point for every week the government stays closed, although those losses tend to get recovered when things reopen. Still, economists say, some losses to the local economy in Washington, D.C, and surrounding areas from the lack of business activity can be painful.
Some Republicans representatives have called for deep spending cuts that, even if they do pass the House, are unlikely to do so in the Senate. They have also demanded a pullback on the U.S. funding of Ukraine in its war against Russia. McCarthy’s recent endorsement of an inquiry into President Joe Biden was widely thought to have been part of a concession to the Republicans resisting the current long-term spending plans.
The White House placed any economic downturn that would result in the case of a government shutdown squarely at the feet of House Republicans.
“These consequences are real and avoidable—but only if House Republicans stop playing political games with peoples’ lives and catering to the ideological demands of their most extreme, far-right members,” the White House said.