Monday, September 28, 2015

Senate Votes to Temporarily Avoid Government Shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
(R-KY)
The Senate's Republicans and Democrats voted today to advance a spending bill, which, if passed by the House, would finance government spending until December 11. On the other hand, if not passed by Wednesday night, the end of the U.S.'s fiscal year, funding would be cut to many government agencies on Thursdays, effectively forcing a government shutdown.

Even so, the prospect of the bill passing the House is mediocre at best. The bill does not dictate any changes to Planned Parenthood, which is a concern because many House Republicans have pledged to block any bill not cutting off funding for the program. Especially with tensions high following Speaker Boehner's resignation, the ability of the House to pass the bill before the end of the fiscal year is very questionable.

Furthermore, this isn't the first time in Obama's presidency, let alone recent history, that the government has been shut down due to Republican objections to policy. In 2013, Republicans shut down the economy over a disapproval of the Obama's Affordable Care Act. Although it was resolved fairly quickly (within the month), it was still largely detrimental to the economy and generally viewed as a mistake by the Republican Party.

Even if the bill passes, it would still only leave the government two and a half months to agree on a new plan for spending. This is by no means a lot of time, and the disagreements revolving around Planned Parenthood and Boehner's resignation certainly will not help.

For now, we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

What do you think will happen? Should the Republicans blocking the bill be blamed for their stubbornness despite threats of a government shutdown, or is it the fault of the House as a whole for not better tailoring to the goals of every party?
Some have blamed the Republicans for purposefully trying to force another shutdown to scare the voters from voting for a Democrat again - what do you think are the merits of these accusations? Are they reasonable? If so, what does that say about our political system?

Sources:
New York Times
New York Times
2013 Government Shutdown

2 comments:

Scott Chow said...

The link to our current discussions on Congress and passing legislature is painfully obvious at this point, but this situation brings up an extremely interesting edge case in bills: the budget.

A couple of things to review about budget bills:
(http://www.cbpp.org/research/policy-basics-introduction-to-the-federal-budget-process)

It is NOT subject to filibusters or hold in the Senate.

It is NOT subject to veto by the President.

In addition to these two facts, there are also a variety of precedents in the Congress which essentially allow them to use the prior year's plan among others, and the President can even sign a Continuing Resolution to provide funding for the government in the absence of a formal budget.

Obviously there are things set in place to EXPEDITE the budget making process, under the idea that the budget NEEDS to pass in order to keep the government running. I, however, take issue when individuals begin to abuse that fact to try to back one party or the other into a corner for POLITICAL reasons when they are risking government programs and agencies that don't directly affect them. They are essentially playing chicken with remote control cars that the voters are front seat in; they risk things that don't hurt them directly. Sure, they definitely risk reelection if they are caught on the wrong side, but they are not the veterans who miss out on treatment because the VA goes down; they are not the ones who go hungry when social security doesn't come through to families in dire need; they are not the ones being hurt, if I didn't repeat myself enough already.

I hope someone can explain to me ANY rationale behind this, because it would help me forgive Congress and the President for what seems to be an incredibly political act for something with so many PRACTICAL consequences.

Monica Mai said...

I don't want to completely blame the Republicans for the possible government shutdown, but I don't think that Planned Parenthood should be the priority in this case. No cuts should be made for Planned Parenthood, but if the government is going to be shut down because of the House Republicans' unwillingness to compromise, then their priorities aren't in the right place. Speaking of compromise though, we talked today in class about how compromise meant defeat/surrender. I think both sides should make compromises to avoid another government shutdown at all costs. Anyways, if the House Republicans don't agree on this bill, I'm questioning whether or whether not there is too much power in one party's hands that determines whether or whether not there is a shut down.