Author: Angela Yang
Thirty-five days of deadlock for three weeks of decisive stability. Hurrah?
The general narrative has taken its shape: President Donald Trump relented, and we have a victor! Democrats have successfully stood vigilant in a faceoff against the largest-scale temper tantrum in U.S. history. Ah, yes, they sure showed the man that shutting down the government won’t get him a free pass to whatever he demands.
Perhaps Trump and future presidents will take this episode as a defining new lesson learned, but if we know anything at all about history from every era and region of the world, we should remember that it tends to repeat itself regardless. All we can say for certain is that hundreds of thousands of livelihoods were thrown into turmoil for a conclusion that only suggests Washington will finally get working on a realistic plan.
With a secure compromise still yet to be reached, the longest shutdown this nation has ever experienced happened also to be the least fruitful—if “shutdown” and “fruitful” could even belong in the same sentence. Yet, to no surprise, it all came at colossal expense.
The lives of a nation’s people should not be political leverage. No one truly comes out of a government shutdown a winner—not Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, nor the president and his Senate Republicans. But these figures battling it out at the top couldn’t have been the real losers either.
They were not the individuals missing paychecks and mortgage payments. They were not the families lining up at food banks, or diabetics straining dwindling funds to pay for life-saving insulin. No, the real losers released Friday from the chokehold of this impasse were 800,000 federal employees working to provide public services such as park cleanup and airport security, or putting their lives in peril to serve as bodyguards for the president himself.
After this most recent display of the worst of congressional inefficiency, legislators are expressing their discontent.
“This shutdown confirmed what we already knew about shutdowns,” Ohio Senator Rob Portman said in a statement. “Let’s do something about it now while the pain and inefficiency of this moment is fresh on our minds.”
Portman, along with a handful of other Republican senators, introduced an End Government Shutdowns Act on Jan. 11 in the midst of this most recent ordeal—though he has proposed the legislation in every Congress since he was first elected to his seat in 2010.
The bill would be the step we need heading forward to ensure that if politicians cannot agree on future appropriations by deadline, funding for programs or agencies under an unsigned budget would continue under current provisions until an up-to-date resolution is reached. As an incentive in such cases, it details that funds would decrease by one percent after the first 120 days without a new agreement, then by one percent further for every subsequent 90 days.
America has seen 21 federal shutdowns since the first occurrence in 1976. It’s time to take preventative action.