Democrats Avert Government Shutdown — For Now

After a dramatic showdown in the small hours of Friday night over the budget, it looked likely that the U.S. government would be facing a shutdown: Without funding, all nonessential government operations would stop, throwing the country into chaos. The situation got much brighter on Monday afternoon, when the Senate managed to agree upon and pass legislation that could yet again temporarily punt the problem of the budget into the future.

If all of this is completely confusing and you’re wondering what to do about it, you’re not alone.

Here’s the skinny: Congress is responsible for appropriating funds for government operations, from Medicaid to the military and beyond.†The president develops a budget proposal, and members of Congress work on a series of what are known as†appropriations bills. If they can’t pass a budget in time for a deadline, the government†has no authority to spend money. Congress may opt to pass a continuing resolution that provides a temporary funding extension while they work out the details.

No one wants a government shutdown. During this time, many agencies close entirely or radically curtail operations. Federal employees may be barred from working, even as volunteers. Others may have to work with the promise of future pay — this includes the military. Members of Congress, it should be noted, continue to receive pay during shutdowns.

In 2017, rumblings of trouble began: The Republicans and Democrats have very different spending priorities, and they couldn’t agree on a budget. To make matters worse, they were also battling over reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which extends health insurance coverage to nearly nine million children.

Plus, Democrats were concerned about the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals , or DACA), which was suspended by the president in a move that’s currently being litigated. Recognizing that the budget is key, Democrats tried attaching a fix for DACA to the budget.

When the Senate failed to agree on a solution — with some Republicans crossing the aisle to vote with the Democrats — it triggered frantic negotiation that ended in Monday’s agreement, which provides three weeks of funding,†plus the following:

  • Reauthorization of CHIP for another six years.
  • The suspension of some taxes associated with the Affordable Care Act.
  • A promise of bringing forward an immigration bill before the looming March deadline for DACA.

Fans of health care access for children are excited to see CHIP taken care of — using children’s health as a bargaining†tool wasn’t a great policy move.

But immigration advocates are very concerned about DACA. They note that Republican promises have evaporated into nothing in the past, so they’re worried that an immigration bill might not make it to the floor — or that the Senate may pass a bill, but the House will refuse to play ball. Some say the Democrats “caved” and should have held out, even if it meant a shutdown.

While some on the left are critical of the Democrats for moving forward, many were concerned about holding onto their base in conservative states where people would have felt the pinch of a government shutdown very quickly. Others may have feared that the costs of a shutdown when weighed against the benefits of holding out could be too high. However, some prominent Democrats — including several with possible presidential aspirations — did vote against the negotiated agreement, including Cory Booker (NJ), Elizabeth Warren (MA), and Kamala Harris (CA).

Take Action!

The first thing you can do is call your elected officials and tell them two things:

  • You want them to pass a real budget, so we can stop living in limbo with continuing resolutions.
  • You want to see the DREAM Act brought to the floor and voted on in both houses — ASAP — and you want your lawmaker to support it.

You can also join fellow Care2 activists in signing petitions supporting DACA and sanctuary cities.

Photo credit: Lorie Shaull

54 comments

John B
John B6 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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heather g
heather g8 months ago

Common sense and a bit of compassion seem to be missing amongst 'repugnants'.

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Rachel -
Past Member 8 months ago

Sharon B. If a wall isn't the answer, what is? Since the year 2000, between 303,916 and 1,643,679 people a year were apprehended by Border Patrol trying to sneak across the southwest border. They estimate they catch one in three. That means between about 600,000 and 3,200,000 illegal aliens successfully cross the border per year. No nation can sustain such an illegal influx.

https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2017-Dec/BP Southwest Border Sector Apps FY1960 - FY2017.pdf

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Rachel -
Past Member 8 months ago

You know how when a tailgater getting brake-checked results in a fender bender, the cops come and give him props for averting a bad wreck? Lol me neither. The author's just trying to schumer Democrats.

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Winn Adams
Winn A8 months ago

The Democrats let America down . . . .

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Winn Adams
Winn A8 months ago

Noted

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Deborah W
Deborah W8 months ago

Antsy Nancy and out-of-luck Chuck keep holding on. DACA is huge enough to demand its own deserved space and presentation -- not one stuffed into other issues for leverage. If it ever makes it out of committee, those innocents caught in the net would have a second chance at JUST AND LEGAL staying power.. So, are they gonna hold out until old age takes them out, and in the meantime destroy any serious correction? PROBABLY.

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Brian F
Brian F8 months ago

Sharon B I agree, DACA and the Dreamers deserve citizenship, but the Democrats defending sanctuary cities is wrong. California's AG will prosecute any mayor who turns illegal immigrants in to ICE, or complies with ICE. This is wrong.

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sharon b
sharon b8 months ago

And don't forget the Republicans threatened a shutdown too. The Democrats have had to give in too many times to the Republicans to keep the government running in the last 10 yrs.

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sharon b
sharon b8 months ago

Mike A the Democrats aren't choosing illegals over the others they are saying illegals are important too. They had to fight to get chip against the Republicans who wanted to destroy it. Everyone you stated is important but giving rights to children raised here is too. Yes we have an illegal problem but the wall isn't the answer. Both sides need to pay attention to what the voters have to say, to ALL voters. All political parties have corruption we just have to pick and choose.

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