Congress gets the shutdown jitters

Congress gets the shutdown jitters

The government shutdown of 1995 seems like a long time ago, but many congressional Republicans still seem to be suffering post traumatic stress over the debacle. While all else is uncertain going into the closing weeks of fiscal 1999, Republicans are making one thing clear: THERE WILL BE NO GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN.

Again this year, GOP leaders are taking pains to assure everyone that they will not allow an appropriations lapse. It used to be that having a bill or two lapse, causing a small shutdown, was not a big deal. Then came 1995, when the public blamed Republicans for closing down national parks and monuments. Republicans still are not sure why they got blamed for the shutdown.

"In 1995, there was an unfair assessment that we caused it," said a former House Republican aide who was in the middle of the 1995 mess. "Why is it that the people who want to spend less are blamed for closing down the government?"

Still, the mere threat of a shutdown causes great anxiety among Republicans. "There are many folks around here who are defined by that episode," said an aide to a House Republican conservative. "Their thinking has never been the same. It was our sense that we got our tail whipped so bad."

Others agreed. "The perception is that the president will blame a Republican Congress if the government shuts down, and that the blame will stick is a given," said another House GOP aide.

Never again, shell-shocked Republicans declare. First, they have tried over and over again to find a way to pass legislation creating an automatic continuing resolution that would go into effect if any funding lapsed. Appropriators and the Clinton administration hate the idea, so it has remained bottled up. Republicans are left assuring everybody that they will pass as many continuing resolutions as are needed to keep even the smallest national monument open.

"You don't want to get in a position of suspending government services," said a House Republican leadership aide, who conceded that, since the shutdown, Republicans "are not as aggressive in making these bold statements."

Instead, Republicans are in the position of passing as many appropriations bills as possible, in an effort to demonstrate that they can get their business done. "This is not a terribly philosophically driven Congress," one Republican recently commented.

But some Republicans worry that constant fretting over the mere possibility of a government shutdown leaves Republicans in a weakened position. The administration uses the shutdown stick "to a great effect," said a House GOP aide. "We shiver over it."

Another Republican worried that keeping the government open is not a great Republican slogan heading into tough talks with the president. "That's hardly a rallying cry," he said.

Once again, Congress is heading toward having to pass a huge omnibus spending bill. But Congress' inability to get funding bills done on time may not be the only reason for such a debacle.

Legislators once again are linking various issues in separate funding measures, making it necessary to link the bills. For example, for the past few years, Republicans have linked such issues as the amount of money the United States owes to the United Nations, an issue in the Commerce-Justice-State funding measure, to funding and language dealing with international family planning groups, an issue in the Foreign Operations bill. As long as those two issues are linked, the bills may have to be linked. "The big bills don't get done because politicians link the issues," said one GOP aide.

Another budget writer suggested that the process would be simpler if everyone let each issue fall or rise on its own merits. Why not simply pass one of the bills, with the understanding that the other issue will be taken care of in its own bill? That's a more fundamental problem.

Discussing the general negotiating climate on Capitol Hill, the budgeteer commented, "Nobody trusts anybody." Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee, who are now getting ready to embrace the concept of forward funding, warned of its evils just a few months ago.

Many Republicans are arguing that the way to solve the current appropriations mess is to use FY2001 money to fund programs in this year's funding bills. Republicans and the Clinton administration used the same device last year, and an October analysis of last year's omnibus funding bill by the Senate GOP Budget Committee staff warned that as much as $9 billion in the Labor-HHS measure was being forward-funded. Of that total, $6.1 billion was used for the Title I compensatory education program.

It is easy to forward-fund education programs, since it makes the funding correspond to the school year. But the October analysis also warned that this year's Labor-HHS bill would have to absorb the $6.1 billion hit. Instead, budgeteers appear prepared to simply forward-fund another huge chunk of the Labor- HHS bill. Which of course, means that next year ... You get the picture.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.