After 3 days of a government shutdown due to a Senate stalemate, a bipartisan group of senators reached an agreement to invoke cloture on the Democrat’s filibuster. The measure passed 81-18, and went to the House for another vote, which passed 266-150. President Trump signed it into law later Monday evening.
The bill funds the Children’s Health Insurance Plan for 6 years, and removes certain Affordable Care Act-era health insurance taxes. This temporary spending bill funds the government for 3 more weeks, giving legislators time to discuss several polarizing topics. Though temporary budgeting is not ideal, we can be glad that members of Congress are taking concrete steps to work together across the aisle.
What Happens Next?
The vote is mainly the work of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell(R-KY), who promised Senate Democrat leaders a “free and open debate” on the Senate floor on immigration. A large part of that discussion will be how to handle the recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, often called DREAMers. However, a larger debate on immigration reform is likely to follow in the near future. Considering the government is only being funded for 17 more days, they also need to begin discussing a long-term budget.
Effects of a Shutdown
Even through a shutdown, “essential” government services continue to run normally. This includes service men and women, air traffic control, and other “life-and death” services. For staff that isn’t deemed “essential”, they are sent home on furlough. It can take some time for pay to get caught up, and some workers could wait weeks before receiving backpay.
Congress and the President, however, still receive pay as normal, while their staffers do not. In 2013, the Council of Economic advisors estimated that the shutdown led to 120,000 fewer private sector jobs in October, not to mention a large decrease in consumer and business confidence. All in all, it cost the federal government billions of dollars. With this being a much shorter shutdown, and localities stepping up more, the effects were not as severe this time. Congress should take a long look at the factors in the budget process that lead to this kind of stalemate.
Government shutdowns show a complete inability to govern and a lack of bipartisan cooperation. Both Congress and our nation at large struggle from these incompetencies. Democrats intended to use this shutdown as a way to grandstand on their immigration concerns. Though, when you take a strong stance and completely back down 3 days later, your base gets a little irritated and your message gets lost. This was a reckless and irresponsible move on the part of the Democrats. I am thankful for Sen. McConnell and other members of leadership for working to end the stalemate to continue discussion on other topics. While it is unlikely that a complex topic like immigration will be settled in 3 weeks, we can all be glad that dialogue is finally happening between parties, and real policy issues are being discussed in a substantive way.
Now all we can do is wait.