The fierce budget debate currently roiling Congress is threatening the lineup of some Carnival parades, with a handful of military bands saying they won't be able to march this weekend if the government shuts down again.
The temporary spending bill that was approved after last month's three-day shutdown will expire on Thursday if Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on how to fund the government moving forward — a dispute that will result in the furlough of all non-essential government employees, including band members.
At least two bands have told the Rex organization they won't be able to play unless a deal is reached, spokesman King Logan said. Dan Kelly, president of the Krewe of Endymion, said Tuesday that he got a similar notice.
"You wouldn't believe that Congress' action affects Mardi Gras, but here we are," Logan said. "We are simultaneously trying to address what other military units will be dropping out, and what units we can find to replace them" if a budget deal can't be reached, he said.
Among those dropping out are units of the Marine Corps Band, which not only march in the parade on Fat Tuesday but perform at the Rex ball that night.
The cancellations aren't game changers for the Endymion or Rex processions, krewe officials said. Both organizations also invite a number of high school and college bands to march each year.
But it is an unanticipated burden.
"We’re making alternative plans," Kelly said.
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