Here we are again: Another week, another manufactured crisis in Washington. This time it is once again a race to complete a continuing resolution to fund the federal government and avoid a government shutdown. These seemingly continuous crises are the fault of a failed congressional leadership. In other words, Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have led us to yet another brink yet again. And once again, that brinksmanship will benefit those with stiffer spines: Democrats.
The manufactured high-stakes gaming seems normal at this point. It has been almost 21 years since a regular appropriations process has been followed on time. According to the Congressional Research Service, the last time a single regular appropriations bill was acted upon before the start of a new fiscal year was 2010. Since then, there have been 26 continuing resolutions to fund the government, including two already for the current 2017 fiscal year.
Instead of working toward spending priorities through a regular appropriations process in which line items are debated, Congress has taken to waiting until the last minute to pass what are merely stop-gap measures to fund the government. This creates unnecessary drama and gives the minority party an outsized advantage.
Although government shutdowns were once seemingly routine, ever since the 1996 shutdown, the media has harped on a shutdown being a failure of government. Almost always, the narrative is twisted to blame Republicans. This year would be no different.
But it didn’t have to be this way. There have been about 70 weekdays in the first 100 days of the Trump administration. During that time, very little has been accomplished legislatively. Until this week, with a looming deadaline of April 28, 2017, to fund the government, virtually nothing had been done on the continuing resolution.
Instead of working over the last two weeks to come up with a continuing resolution, or even an appropriations bills through a regular process, Speaker Ryan sent Congress home. Prior to this past Monday, April 24, 2017, the House had not met in a full session since Thursday, April 6, 2017. During the time between those dates, the House met five times, with no session lasting more than four minutes.
Because of the high stakes artificially engineered by Ryan and McConnell, President Trump has decided to back off a request to fund a wall at the nation’s southern border. Trump feared the certain media backlash that would occur if the government was shut down, even though it would have been Democrats doing it.
If the Republican Party actually had a spine and stood for the principles it purports to espouse, these high-stakes games wouldn’t be a problem. However, Ryan and McConnell are the type of guys who fold holding pocket aces pre-flop. Even when they hold the advantage, they capitulate, because they seemingly don’t hold the principles they use to get elected.
On Friday, when the Democrats get everything they want funded in the budget, from Planned Parenthood to a myriad of other leftist programs — and a wall isn’t funded — remember the reason is because of the way Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell run the Congress.