The 2018 Government Shutdown and Who is to Blame: What’s Left

A Republican Rejection of Bipartisanship

On January 20, 2018, the United States federal government shut down at midnight after Republicans failed to garner the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Democratic filibuster. The continuing quarrel over the Dream Act and the status of DACA recipients gave reason to this contentious debate. Democrats were the ones to invoke the government shutdown by not allowing for a continuing resolution of the budget to pass, but the fact that the Republicans control every branch of government puts the blame for the shutdown squarely on them. House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with higher-ups in the Republican Congress, seems to approach bipartisanship by not compromising at all. This includes practices such as writing bills in secret with scribbled last-minute additions, no time for debate, and forcing bills through via reconciliation because you don’t have enough votes. When all that still fails, blame the Democrats.

Republicans continue to override the time for proper debate or legislative oversight in order to get want they and President Donald Trump want. While they may gain marginal success, such as their 2017 tax bill, which hovers around 30 percent popularity, it should come as no surprise that Democrats put their foot down and demanded a proper vote or commenced a cessation of jamming bills through Congress. The most frustrating aspect of this standstill is that Republicans and Democrats had a bipartisan deal. On January 11, Trump rejected a bipartisan deal that would have protected DACA recipients while also allocating funds for increased border security. The president’s infamous response to the bipartisan deal, reported by CNN and the Washington Post, was, “Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here?” For a master deal maker, it seems like pretty poor business sense to reject a deal where you are given exactly what you want for only a small compromise. But what do I know? I don’t have the business sense that comes with being born to millions of dollars and declaring bankruptcy multiple times.

The despicable part is that along with holding the status of 800,000 DACA participants in jeopardy, the Republicans also held up funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This program provides funds for health insurance acquisition of nine million children and pregnant women in low-income households. Even worse was that a proposal put forth by Democratic senators to ensure military funding through the shutdown was objected by Mitch McConnell himself. The party that supposedly cares about veterans and the armed forces the most seems pretty quick to leave them out in the cold.

The Republican-facilitated government shutdown is truly remarkable in that it had no reason to occur. The Republicans have the majority in the House, the majority in the Senate, the majority in the Supreme Court, and the Presidency. The only reason for this shutdown is sheer legislative incompetence. Those hurt by the government shutdown turned this democratic blunder into an almost comically evil setup. This shutdown put the lives and futures of young educated immigrants, low-income children, and those serving the armed forces at risk. While the shutdown has since ended, I hope that it stays in the minds of voters as the 2018 midterm elections approach. 

Contact James Goldin at [email protected].