Who Was Responsible for the Government Shutdown?

A US Park Police officer stand guard in front of the closed Lincoln Memorial during the 2013 government shutdown
A US Park Police officer stand guard in front of the closed Lincoln Memorial during the 2013 government shutdown (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

It is no secret that Congress has been struggling to pass a budget for quite some time now, and their time has finally run out. Everyone can agree that this is a terrible event for our country. But there is one question that the American people are heavily debating: who is responsible?

If you’re a Democrat, the seemingly obvious answer is Donald Trump. The “Stable Genius” who has no idea how to compromise and will stop at nothing to fund his border wall. But if you’re a Republican, then it was undoubtedly Chuck Schumer and the obstructionist Democrats who would put illegal immigrants lives over those of our servicemen and women of the armed forces. Here is an objective look at both sides of the argument followed up with my two cents on the issue

The Democrat’s Point of View

For Democrats, the question of who is responsible for shutting our government down has one simple answer: Donald Trump. The president’s refusal to make any sort of deal on DACA has ruffled many feathers in the Democratic Party and has resulted in Democrats and Republicans alike refusing to vote for a budget that does not include funding for the nearly 800,000 immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement he gave on the Senate floor that he met with Trump in the Oval Office and proposed a compromise that involved funding for a border wall in exchange for funding for DACA. Senator Schumer said the president was open to the deal but did nothing to move Republicans to vote in favor of the proposal. With no deal on DACA, several Senate Democrats and Republicans both voted no for a continuing resolution (CR) that would extend government funding into February and give Congress more time to work out a deal, leading to a government shutdown. For many, the president’s inability to foster a deal between Democrats and Republicans causes the blame to fall on him.

The Republican’s Point of View

For Republicans, the answer is equally as simple. Senator Chuck Schumer is responsible for the government shutdown. Republicans blame Schumer for organizing the Democrat’s resistance to the CR bill that would continue funding, calling the Senator an obstructionist. This is because the CR bill to continue the funding into February needed 60 votes to pass the Senate. With fifty-one Republican Senators, only nine Democrats needed to vote yes for the CR to pass. The CR failed with a 50-49 vote that resulted in defections from both parties. After the vote, the White House released this statement attacking Senator Schumer for his role in the bill’s failure:

“Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown. Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans. We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators. When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform. During this politically manufactured Schumer Shutdown, the President and his Administration will fight for and protect the American people.”

My Perspective

After reading extensively on the subject, I don’t believe either side is entirely responsible for the shutdown. Both Republicans and Democrats played major roles in the failure of the CR bill. Republicans refused to compromise on DACA, which led to the Democrats (and even some Republicans) opposing the bill. It is important to remember that during the final vote to pass the CR bill in the Senate, both sides broke party ranks. Five Democrats voted yes, Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Doug Jones (AL), Claire McCaskill (MO), Joe Manchin (WV), and Joe Donnelly (IN). On the other side of the aisle, four Republicans voted no, with Lindsey Graham (SC), Rand Paul (KY), Mike Lee (UT), and Jeff Flake (AZ) breaking ranks.

Earlier today, Congress actually passed a bill to fund the government, but only for 3 weeks. The White House needs to stay open on negotiations for DACA if they have any hope of passing a long-term budget anytime soon. With bipartisan support for the program, it would be senseless to not make a compromise.

It’s time to stop the petty finger-pointing. Both Democrats and Republicans alike need to come together at the negotiating table and forge a deal that works for everyone. Until then, the American people can do nothing but sit back and watch as Congress fights over our money.

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