Washington, DC – It’s easy sometimes to forget whether the Democrats are the party of the American people or they’re the party for themselves. With only hours before a government shutdown, Senate Democrats are literally threatening to implode the greatest country in the world for nothing other than spite. Their platforms and policies have failed, President Donald Trump has brought more peace and security to our Union than any other president before him and yet the Democrats continue to resist because it’s the only thing that justifies their existence. Outside of the capital, the situation is getting more dire by the day.
Just three hours west of Chicago, a federal prison stands ready to take in thousands of inmates and hire hundreds of guards, but its expansion is on hold, awaiting approval from a U.S. Congress that is once again paralyzed by budget disputes.
Across the country, with the 2018 fiscal year well under way, the U.S. government is carrying out duties ranging from nuclear weapons development to homeless assistance, but its spending levels and priorities are four months out of date. Although the mainstream media has been quick to point the finger at President Donald Trump for the latest Washington quagmire, the responsibility for another impending bureaucratic failure sits squarely on the shoulders of the establishment Republicans and the Democrats.
That is because Congress, once again, failed last year to approve a new budget on time by October 1. Instead, lawmakers since then have approved three temporary spending measures that have kept the fiscal 2017 budget in place.
On Thursday, congressional Republicans and Democrats were fighting furiously over the terms of a fourth temporary measure, known as a continuing resolution, that would extend funding past its Friday midnight expiration.
Congressional leaders see another temporary extension as a better option than the alternative – a partial shutdown that would furlough hundreds of thousands of federal workers and shutter landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty.
Their plan would include a few exceptions. The Pentagon could go ahead with a missile defense program, for example. But otherwise it would keep government spending effectively on autopilot.
Congress has managed to pass its spending bills on time in only four of the past 40 years, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a congressional in-house watchdog. Last year, after three continuing resolutions, President Trump finally put his foot down and brokered the impasse by enacting the fiscal 2017 spending bill on May 5.
Dysfunction on this level often prevents the the President from launching new projects, such as the Border Wall and closing out those that have run their course, such as Obamacare. It also fails to account for inflation, salary increases and other rising costs. Marc Goldwein, senior policy director at the Committee for a Responsible Budget, said in an interview on Thursday,
“You’re stuck with old decisions, whether or not those are the right decisions for 2018.”
President Trump has inherited a mess. For example, last year’s spending bill set aside $20 million to reimburse Washington-area local governments for the cost of providing security during his January inauguration. Those instructions remain in the current spending bill even though the inauguration has long since passed.
Meanwhile, with the fiscal 2018 budget still incomplete, the Pentagon says it is waiting to launch what it says is a much-needed rebuilding effort after 16 years of continuous war and efforts to undermine the strength of our military by former president Obama.
The National Institutes of Health has already scaled back medical research, due to uncertainty over how much it will ultimately get from Congress.
But President Trump is doing everything he can to break the impasse. According to a senior White House staffer, the President is constantly on the phone in the Oval Office and lobbying Senate Democrats as well as Republican Senators to pass the interim budget and avert a government shutdown. Fortunately, President Trump has already put in place measures to ensure that the most essential public services still get rolled out to Americans.
Past budget delays under Obama have had far more serious implications. The Obama administration’s failure to pass a budget cut food and drug inspections and slowed veterans’ benefits claims, according to a 2009 GAO report. For a period, there was no way of knowing if U.S. imports of Mexican fruit and vegetables were safe to consume and veterans were left untreated. The Obama administration also forced the Federal Bureau of Investigation to postpone upgrades to a computer system used in counterintelligence work.
Budget delays prevent buying in bulk, as well, forcing the government to spend more on repeated, smaller contracts on everything from food to bullets. The Obama administration’s ineptitude cost the Navy $4 billion in recent years, speaking at a U.S. Naval Institute forum on December 4 last year, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said,
“Since 2011, we have put $4 billion in the trash can, put lighter fluid on top of it, and burned it.”
“The President is beyond frustrated,” according to a White House staffer who requested anonymity as they are not authorized to speak with the media,
“In business, budgets get done well ahead of time because a shutdown means the business no longer exists.”
“The President is frustrated that Congress and the Senate just simply don’t understand how serious the situation is. They take a shutdown as no big deal and the Democrats are treating this like a game of ‘chicken.'”
Despite the challenges, President Trump has been pulling out all the stops so that the Trump Train is not derailed, meeting on Friday afternoon with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer at the White House, but no agreement was reached. Meanwhile, Americans are literally just hours away from another government shutdown, if President Trump wants to drain the swamp, he’s going to need to find a bigger plug to pull.