Jan 18 2019
This coming Monday will mark the 31st day of this partial government shutdown, the longest shutdown in our nation’s history. Families are going without paychecks, businesses are losing revenue, and the brave men and women who protect our country—including those at the border and in the waters surrounding our nation—are not getting the support they need to keep us safe.
This needs to end, and it needs to end as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, zero progress is being made to resolve this impasse here in Washington. In fact, no work towards finding a solution is being done at all.
Democrats are refusing even to meet with President Trump to discuss a compromise. And in the Senate, we are not debating or voting on possible solutions.
This is wrong. Congress is failing the American people. We should be debating and voting on these issues every day of this shutdown. We are elected to represent our constituents in setting policy for the federal government. We aren’t doing that. Instead we are all just sitting around waiting for some game-changing event to set things in motion. But what if that event takes weeks to arrive? Or months?
Some say we should just pass a short-term continuing resolution now and then begin negotiations over how to manage the migrant crisis at our southern border. But this is not a viable solution. There is no guarantee President Trump would sign such a short-term bill. And even if he did, we would be right back in a shutdown after the short-term funding window had passed.
Instead of kicking the can down the road, or waiting for one side to cave, we should begin the hard work of governing now.
Let’s bring a spending bill to the floor—one that reopens the government and provides the funds and statutory changes desperately needed to secure our border. If the Democrats want to filibuster a bill that funds more immigration judges, funds more medical personnel, funds more beds for migrants, and yes, adds to our existing 650 miles of border wall, let’s get them on record as doing so.
Democrats could even offer amendments of their own to the funding bill. Do the Democrats want to have votes on creating a legal status for immigrants brought to this country illegally as children, on abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or on granting amnesty to the over 11 million illegal immigrants in the country today? If so—and if considering such measures would help us bring an end to the shutdown—then let’s vote!
These are important policy issues, and the American people deserve to know where their senators stand, especially considering that so many of them are running for president. Sometimes there is a good reason to cast a vote even if you are not sure a bill is going to become law.
Sometimes setting the record straight as to who is where on each important issue is helpful; it moves the legislative process forward.
It is of course entirely possible that the first government funding bill passed by the Republican-controlled Senate wouldn’t pass the Democratic-controlled House. Even if it didn’t, this exercise would at least help us see where each member stands on each issue considered. That understanding would help us move forward and do the hard work of voting, compromising, and reopening the government.
This shutdown most likely isn’t going to end with a total victory for either one side or the other. The federal government should not be the vehicle for partisan vanity projects. We do have a crisis on our southern border. Our law-enforcement resources are being overwhelmed by the volume of migrants illegally crossing the border. We need a solution. The House and Senate need to get off the sidelines and start the hard work of ending this shutdown.