by Bekah Paxton, Staff Writer
It’s that time of year again — time to bite our nails in fear of another government shutdown for the next eight days. The U.S. Congress is currently faced with the challenging prospect of passing a spending bill to fund the next fiscal year into 2015, and the U.S. President Barack Obama administration’s new executive action on rights expansion for undocumented immigrants hasn’t helped come up with a solution.
Reaching a consensus across the aisle for a spending bill has already proved a difficult and laborious task for Congress, but now the additional hurdle regarding the new immigration policies may result in more gridlock and debate over the impending budget bill.
U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner has said that as the head of Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives, he wants to avoid a shutdown at “almost all costs,” The New York Times reported Dec. 1.
Because of Obama’s executive order expanding rights for undocumented immigrants, the debate over how the government should allot its spending may become more complicated. Homeland security is already a volatile issue between parties, and with a policy that gives protection to potentially 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants, according to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security picks up a pretty hefty tab.
Essentially, Republicans are attempting to counter the action taken on immigration. However, a bill must be passed by Dec. 11 allocating government spending in order to prevent a shutdown. Above all, Republicans do not want a shutdown on their party record, especially with a largely Republican Congress coming in the next couple of months.
U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Georgia) developed a “hybrid solution” to this year’s spending debate: a broad-based bill which would set funding for the federal government through September 2015, and a stopgap, or temporary, measure to fund the DHS and its new tasks. This plan favors Republicans, as soon as the newly elected representatives and senators take office, and then the debates can start up again within a Republican-majority Congress.
The question is whether or not Democrats will also sign onto this strategy. In spending operations, it is even more essential that there is agreement and compromise between parties, or the debates become fierce, and mediocre measures are put in place, which do little to solve fiscal problems or simply push the problems down the road.
The government shutdown of 2013 caused many citizens to lose faith in their government, and rightly so. Government spending comes from constituents’ tax dollars, so spending and budget bills should be of high importance to us. The last shutdown resulted in an abrupt and unnecessary standstill of everything that had “U.S. Government” stamped on it—including national parks, memorials and government websites.
Another shutdown would only exacerbate this problem and would decrease public participation in political activity even further. What is the point of electing people to represent you if they can’t implement any of the tenets you elected them for? Why continue the cycle of unfruitful gridlock and the political blame game?
The political dramatics of it all seems to crop up every year around this strategic fiscal procrastination. In the end, some version of a stopgap resolution will probably result from this time crunch to temporarily solve this particular spending bill debate. All in all, agreeing on spending taxpayers’ money is a difficult and lengthy debate. However, teetering on the brink of government shutdowns every time a spending or budget bill needs to be passed only depletes the constituency’s faith in the government to serve public interests.