Oops, they did it again. The division between bipartisan leadership has drifted the Ship of State into the Rocks of Fiscal Impasse.
The federal government of the United States of America officially shut down certain operations effective one minute after midnight Saturday, January 20, 2018. Did you sleep through it?
By almost equal votes (95%) Democrats and Republicans failed to agree on approving federal spending laws, called appropriations. With no authorized budget, the law says federal employees get furloughed (paid leaves) and many agencies shut down.
The equally split vote, shown above, reveals just how much one party loathes the other, and how at odds our nation has become.
After months of wrangling, Uncle Samuel finally ran out of money two nights ago after – Congress passed two funding extensions, the first on December 8, 2017, and the second on January 19, 2018.
Naturally, each political party blames the other for grinding the wheels of government to a halt.
The truth is that each party had its agenda which was at odds with the other.
Before the fiscal deadline, Democrats decided to fight against President Trump’s proposed end to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Pew Research says “approximately 800,000 young unauthorized immigrants have received work permits and protection from deportation through DACA since its creation five years ago.”
Republicans wanted six more years of federal support for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides low-cost health insurance to 9 million children. “Nearly 2 million children will lose health coverage,” according to NBC News. The program is for children from families who can’t afford health insurance but whose income disqualifies them from Medicaid.
Last Friday, January 19, 2018, Congress did approve to fund CHIPS for five more years. But the clashing and unresolved discord over DACA drove the Democrats to their perceived Act of Final Resort: put the kibosh on the entire national budget until they get their way.
Consider these two pieces of legislation: one promotes accessibility to health insurance for Medicaid-qualified low-income kids, and the other promotes economic support for illegal immigrant kids. At least we know our kids will get the healthcare they need.
But it’s wise to remember, as this writer observed previously, “Open Immigration Serves the Democrats.” It serves them votes.
After the 2016 election – and now that Republicans rule the roost with majority representation on The Hill – the Democrats need to be concerned about future votes.
However, thanks to President Trump, and in spite of this temporary temper tantrum at the highest levels of government, prioritizing non-citizens over tax-paying citizens is coming quickly to an end.
In case you’re wondering exactly which services and organizations have been grounded, ZeroHedge lists many, including:
“national parks, monuments and the Smithsonian museums in Washington. Other activities that may stop if the shutdown lasts more than a few days include the processing of applications for passports and visas; new enrollments in experimental treatments under the National Institutes for Health; and the maintenance of U.S. government websites, including ones used by businesses and researchers.”
But not everything federal ceases to work. The Morning Call mentions programs that don’t depend on annual appropriations, including Social Security, Medicare, law enforcement, the military, intelligence agencies, foreign embassies, courts and the US Postal Service.
The last time the folks in charge of handling the nation’s pursestrings ran out of money and shut down was September 2013. You may remember those two weeks of panic in the streets?
No, wait. That didn’t happen. If memory serves, government services did resume, and furloughed employees did get paid.
In what some might consider to be good news, the US Treasury Department, including our good friends over at the IRS, will furlough more than 83 percent of its 88,268 workers.
As of this writing, Congress is working to reach an agreement to pass a temporary funding plan through February 8, 2018.
As the debates rage and tempers flare, stay tuned for the next exciting chapter of:
“As The Hill Turns”