Every high school civics student knows the way the American government works is the House of Representatives and Senate pass a bill and if there’s disagreements between the two, they get worked out in a conference committee before being forwarded to the president for his signature, or veto.
That process appears to be broken today as evidenced by the current federal government shutdown, war of words and finger pointing among national and state leaders.
Local officials, all Republicans, were upset at the stalemate that led to the shutdown Tuesday. But isn’t it the Libertarian dream of no government finally realized?
Bill Carns, chairman of the Nye County Republican Party Central Committee wouldn’t go that far. He felt, however, that it would be a good occasion to make the federal government leaner.
“The government is so bloated to begin with that portions of the non-essential functions shut down doesn’t seem to be affecting a whole lot of people’s lives, other than people sitting home not getting a paycheck from their bloated, federal jobs,” Carns said. “I believe when this problem gets fixed and we fund it, rather than fund the whole kit and caboodle, that’s a perfect opportunity for these various federal agencies to see how many of those non-essential functions we need.”
County Commissioner Dan Schinhofen put the blame for the gridlock on Senate Democrats who didn’t pass budget legislation approved by the House of Representatives. The Senate has rejected attempts by House Republicans to strip money for the Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare,” from the budget for the fiscal year that began Tuesday, Oct. 1.
“Why don’t they pass what’s been sent? The House has sent spending bills minus Obamacare. The other was the delay on the personal mandate. The president has given dozens of delays on other mandates,” Schinhofen said.
Commissioner Frank Carbone said he opposes Obamacare.
“At least one party decided to take a stand on something,” Carbone said. But as far as the tactic of shutting down the government, he said, “as far as whether I like it or not, I really don’t have an opinion on it.”
County Commission Chairman Butch Borasky said there have been attempts to try to piecemeal the budget. However, the Senate rejected House bills to fund only some functions, like national parks.
“I think if they’d sit down at a table and work things out they’d be a lot better off than just saying just shut it down, the hell with it, we can blame the other guys,” Borasky said.
U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said he introduced his “no budget, no pay,” proposal in January to deny pay to congressmen if they couldn’t pass a budget.
“It is extremely unfortunate that Congress was unable to make the tough decisions necessary to avert a government shutdown. The sort of government by crisis is irresponsible and Washington cannot continue down this reckless path,” Heller said in a statement.
He referred to a letter he wrote in April to chairmen of the Senate and House budget committees urging both parties to work together, hammer out their differences and follow the budget process to completion.
“Restoring order to the budget process is an important first step. It is the framework by which Congress has executed its constitutional responsibility to appropriate funds. Failure to do so will result in continued frustration by the American people with Washington’s inability to produce real results,” Heller said.
Senator Reid issued a statement Thursday stating he agreed to meet House Republicans demands and enter into a budget conference, providing the conferees negotiate “in the light of day while the government is open for business.”
“Much to my surprise Speaker Boehner refused and Senate Republicans objected,” Reid said. “Republicans honestly don’t know what they want and don’t have a game plan. I just hope Republicans can figure out what it is they want before the damage to the economic recovery is irreversible.”
He called on Boehner to schedule a straight budget vote in the House that doesn’t strip funds from Obamacare.
“Democrats will not re-litigate the healthcare debate or negotiate at the point of a gun,” Reid said.
U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., said it was Republicans who blocked a motion by House Democrats to fully fund the government.
“Instead, Republicans offered piecemeal bills that cut $6.2 billion.”