Being Right: Finger-Pointing Politics

Mondays are typically viewed as the least favorable day of the week. This past Monday, however, proved to be even more ominous than usual.  On Monday, September 30, 2013, the day came to a close without Congress passing a spending bill, which has created a government shutdown as the fiscal year comes to an end. While the shutdown can have horrible effects, Washington politicians seemed more interested in playing games than avoiding crisis.  To ward off a shutdown of the federal government, Washington needed to pass a continuing resolution bill (CR). Congress was able to agree on a spending bill. But it was unable to agree on riders, which have been attached to the bill.  Said riders were aimed at the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare. This past Sunday, Speaker of the House John Boehner held an emergency session of the House of Representatives. During the session, the histrionic House passed two amendments to the original spending bill. One amendment would delay aspects of the implementation of Obamacare until 2015. The other amendment aimed at appealing a tax placed on medical devices. The bold amendments were the Republicans’ latest attempt at reining back the government overhaul of the health care industry.  The move, supported by Representative Boehner and Tea Party representatives, complicated the future of the CR. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, already wildly out of favor, chose to delay progress all together. Democrats were not happy about the amendments to the CR which target Obamacare. Reid vowed Sunday that the Democratic majority held Senate would kill the Republican passed amendments to the bill. With all cards on the table, Senator Reid had every opportunity to call an emergency session Sunday, as Speaker Boehner had the House of Representatives do. Calling an emergency session would have allowed the Senate to kill the amendments on Sunday and send the bill back to the House. Instead, Senator Reid and his fellow Democratic leaders chose to sit on their hands and let the clock run down. If Senator Reid did not want the government to shut down, why did he not have the Senate spring into action as soon as possible? Partisanship is part of American politics. However, the fact that Senate Majority Leadership refused to move, while clearly stating their intentions to kill the bill, is not partisan.  It is plain irresponsible. The Senate leadership chose to wait until 2 p.m. on Monday to kill the bill. That is just 12 hours before the deadline for a government shutdown.  It leaves very little time for any further changes to pass both houses. If the last few years have shown American voters anything, it is that both sides of the aisle are uncooperative and unwilling to compromise.  Anyone who follows politics is used to Washington gridlock. However, there is a big difference between not agreeing and not doing one’s job. 

If Senator Reid knew that he would not allow the bill to continue on Sunday, he should have acted then. Reid virtually watched time pass by as he said he did not want to see the government shutdown. Not acting, when he had the ability to do so, is not in best interest of any American. Congress most explicitly has one job: to pass bills that allow spending to happen.  In this respect, Congress is failing. In a world where time is money, the difference of 24 hours to vote on the CR could be billions in GDP, not to mention the furloughs on citizens’ jobs. If acting maturely is too much to ask of Congress, they should at least be asked to quit the finger-pointing and histrionics hours before a government shutdown. Please, get to work. 

Contact Hannah Loiacano at [email protected].