President Donald Trump waits to be introduced to speak to the March for Life participants from the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Washington’s political dysfunction came under spotlight again after the Congress missed the deadline to agree on a stopgap bill Friday midnight, triggering the first government shutdown since 2013.
Most Senate Democrats and a handful of Republicans rejected a budget passed by the House a day earlier to fund federal agencies through February 16, due to a split over immigration policy.
“Senate Democrats own the Schumer shutdown,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, blaming the standoff on the Senate minority leader. The New York Democrat retorted by calling it “the Trump shutdown.”
As the partisan blame game heated up, US mass media and public began a soul search by asking “how did we get here?”
“This is the third time that government has risked shutting down in a few months,” said a reader below a Washington Post online report on the shutdown’s potential impact. “Didn’t anyone consider how things would run when we met this challenge back in October?”
The spending bill that expired on Friday was the third since fiscal year 2018 which began on October 1, 2017. US lawmakers have showed a strengthened reliance on temporary funding measures to keep government running over the past 20 years.
According to data collected by non-partisan Peter G Peterson Foundation, there have been 112 temporary measures to fund the government since the beginning of fiscal year 1998, which has introduced uncertainty into government agencies and programs.
“Governing from crisis to crisis isn’t governing.” wrote CNN political reporter Chris Cillizza in an analysis Friday. The Associated Press called the chaos on the Hill “a striking display of Washington dysfunction.”
Since most US government offices won’t work until Monday and there is still time for Congress to exempt tens of thousands of federal employees from furlough. The Congress set up an unusual Saturday session to discuss a three-week version of short-term spending bill.
Even if a deal is reached to break the impasse, Cillizza warned of the probability of a quick return of the shutdown crisis if bad governance practices are not done away with.