Government Shutdown Wastes Time and Money
Published : January 30, 2018
But senators made sure to let anyone on social media know that they were working hard over a weekend. Pandemonium broke out in the media and on the Twitter-sphere, where everyone took to blaming everyone else for why Congress could not pass a spending bill to determine the budget and discretionary spending.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Democrats blamed President Trump. President Trump blamed Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Republicans blamed Democrats. In other words, Congress did what Congress does.
Technically speaking, the government shut itself down from midnight Saturday, Jan. 20 to the evening of Monday, Jan. 22. The latest shutdown came as a result of the Senate failing to overcome a Democratic filibuster. Congress needed to pass a continuing resolution by Jan. 19 to keep funding its programs and employees. Spending differences were not the central issue. Democrats wanted a renewal of legal status for “Dreamers,” the illegal immigrants who were brought into the country when they were children. The Democrats said no passage until there is a plan for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as DACA. And so the government shut down.
As in most cases, the Constitution lays out the guidelines. According to Article 1, Section 9, "No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law." No law means no money. No money means the furlough of government employees, specifically the nonessential employees. In the instance of government shutdown, the military continues operations to keep Americans safe. People may have noticed that they did receive their mail on Monday. This is because the United States Postal Service does not receive tax dollars for day-to-day operations. But the government shutdown did affect a few hundred thousand employees. The exact number is not calculated yet.
This is the 19th time since 1976 that we have had to shut the government down. The most recent shutdown was in 2013 with President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner as key players. The longest shutdown happened in the Clinton administration with a budget impasse involving then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. It was not a very merry Christmas as the government shut down for 21 days from Dec. 5, 1995 to Jan. 6, 1996. And this was following a five-day shutdown that already happened that November.
So there are various reasons historically for the shutdown, but it all boils down to one thing: Congress does not do its job. It panders, whines, and blames the opposing party. Congress becomes a kindergarten classroom where all members need timeouts because no one is listening to the teacher and everyone is calling names.
In the end of the long weekend for the members of the Senate, concessions were made. Schumer led the charge to shut the government down and had to eat his words, with Democrats going against their party in an 81-18 vote on the stopgap bill to temporarily fund the government. (The House of Representatives gave final passage with a vote of 266-150). In exchange, McConnell promised to hold votes in the coming weeks on DACA and other immigration measures.
As we turn the calendar to February, we anxiously await for Congress to see its shadow before the next Feb. 8 deadline. If it does, we get may get another year of government, and if not, we get another shutdown.