OAKLAND - Congress returns to work Tuesday, facing a budget crisis that could push the nation into a government shutdown by Saturday.
On Monday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy voiced optimism that a handful of Republican holdouts might give in to a compromise.
"Apparently they're willing to work now," said McCarthy, who spent the weekend negotiating with some of the hardliners within the Republican Party who are refusing to pass any temporary funding to keep the government open while Congress debates spending packages.
McCarthy and moderate Republicans had worked out a deal with Democrats, but McCarthy has faced an open revolt by about a half-dozen Republican hardliners led by Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz who called for deep spending cuts. The holdouts were encouraged by former President Donald Trump who posted an emphatic message on social media over the weekend, "UNLESS YOU GET EVERYTHING, SHUT IT DOWN!"
The House Speaker blasted that approach on Monday.
"If people want to close the government, it only makes them weaker, Why would they want to stop paying the troops or stop paying the border agents or the Coast Guard? I don't understand how that makes you stronger. I don't understand, what point you're trying to make," said McCarthy.
"We're going to hold extreme House Republicans accountable...for the reckless cuts they are demanding as a condition, as a condition for keeping the government open," said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
"We made a deal. We shook hands, said this what we're gonna do and now, they're reneging on the deal," said President Biden Monday, directing blame squarely on House Republicans.
A shutdown would mean Americans would be unable to access many government offices and services.
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"Passports are going to be shut down. We're going to have to close our parks. We're going to have to close forests," said Max Alonzo, the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) spokesman, whose union represents some 110,000 federal workers.
Alonzo says in the Bay Area, the U.S. Coast Guard, staff at the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center, TSA agents, federal firefighters and other essential workers would be among those nationwide who would have to work without pay.
"Those are our nurses, our doctors, our firefighters, our border control, capitol police, people throughout this nation that are going to be told you'd better show up to work on Monday, but you're not going to get a paycheck," said Alonzo, "A lot of federal employees live paycheck to paycheck."
The government also warned Monday, that women and babies could lose food support through the Supplemental Nutrition for Women Infants and Children (WIC) program.
"WIC is a program that impacts and affects over 50% of all the newborns in this country. Nearly 7 million pregnant moms, new mothers and young children count on WIC every single day," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
To avoid a shutdown, Congress needs to pass some 12 spending bills, or pass a CR continuing resolution for temporary funding by Saturday.
McCarthy is expected to hold a vote Tuesday night on a package of bills but it could be tanked if as few as five Republicans defect and vote no.