The shutdown of eight government agencies is a manufactured crisis. Earlier last year, our fickle president rejected an offer from congressional Democrats for $25 billion for his wall in exchange for a permanent solution regarding the fate of the Dreamers. Now, after furloughing or requiring “essential employees” to work without pay affecting a total of 800,000 dedicated federal employees simply caught in the political crossfire, he’s threatening to keep all agencies closed indefinitely.
The president should represent all Americans, whether in his so-called base or not. It seems there are five people driving his decisions: Immigration policy adviser Stephen Miller, Tea Party Congressmen Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows and reactionary radio personalities Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, all of whom have made this a political matter and not one of sound policy. The candidate who presented himself as a man of the people and brilliant negotiator has demonstrated that he is neither. If he has a legitimate case to be made for his position, he should speak to the nation in a prime-time address and make it.
There’s a simple solution to this situation since seven of the shuttered eight agencies have absolutely nothing to do with the president's demand of $5.6 billion to fund a mere 200 miles of steel slats. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must live up to his title: Senate Leader. This is not a partisan issue. Tax refunds won’t be sent, hard-working people will receive either no or reduced SNAP benefits. School nutrition programs will be curtailed. There are approximately a half-dozen park rangers for all of Yosemite National Park. The National Parks are being treated horribly by patrons, leaving human waste outside of restrooms, bringing dogs into restricted areas and dumping trash everywhere. Our National Parks and Historic sites are national treasures and should be completely shut down for their own preservation. The world's preeminent set of museums, The Smithsonian, isn't available for us or the millions who visit the nation's capital from around the world. Entering tax season with a new law in effect, there is no one home at the IRS to answer questions vital to most of us. And the ultimate ironies are that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are not being paid, resulting in record low morale, and a huge number of asylum seekers at the border will have their cases drag on for years, not weeks or months, because immigration judges can't be hired.
Wait until Social Security checks stop coming or Medicaid stops reimbursing doctors. Wait until the VA gets hurt. Wait until your grandchildren or great-grandchildren can't apply for college loans. Wait until there are not enough corrections officers to keep dangerous felons from being released. Wait until there's no money to pass along to the states to support vital services, like first responders, keeping schools and Universities open or updating critical national security infrastructure. For those who think the government should be shut down permanently, wait until it affects you or your family.
McConnell refuses to bring the House bills, which will fund seven of the non-controversial agencies through September, to the floor for a vote and allow time for more negotiations on immigration — simply because he’s afraid the president won’t sign them. His philosophy seems to be that of “once burned, twice shy.” Negotiating with this president, even with his own party is, as the old saying goes, like nailing Jell-O to a wall. That’s no way to run the government of the United States. McConnell should do his job and fulfill his oath to the American people. He should bring this legislation to the floor for a vote. If necessary any veto by this media-driven president should be overridden. This isn't about any person or party winning or losing. It's about "We the people..."
It is Congress’s Article I Section 8 Clause 1 Constitutional responsibly (generally referred to as “the power of the purse”) to fund and keep the government running and to “provide for the general welfare of the United States.” The only person defaulting on his duty to do so is “Leader” McConnell.
Laurie Cirrincione is a resident of Green Valley. She is a registered Independent.