Plenty of blame to go around

By: 
Chuck Kajer, The New Prague Times

The federal government remains shut down, nearly one month after Congress and the President failed to come to an agreement on funding various federal departments.

This isn’t the first time the government has shut down because two sides were unable to come to an agreement, but as of this week, it is the longest shutdown in our nation’s history. Each side is pointing the blame at the other, but to date, that is the only thing the two sides have in common.

The sticking point is a border wall, one of President Trump’s main campaign promises. He was unable to get Congress, while under Republican control, to agree to funding the wall. In December, the administration and congressional negotiators came to an agreement for a continuing resolution to keep the government running and the Republican controlled Senate passed a bill on a 100-0 vote. But the president, who was not part of the negotiations, backed off this deal and the Republican-controlled House never voted on the agreement, leading to the shutdown.

When a new, Democratic-controlled House took over earlier this month, the House passed a bill similar to the one voted on by the Senate, but now the Senate refuses to put this bill to a vote, saying they won’t vote on anything the President won’t sign. Negotiations have gone nowhere, with neither side willing to give in on the border wall issue.

Meanwhile, government services are not funded, which effects people in many ways. Anyone hoping to vacation in a national park will find park buildings closed and few workers available to assist. FHA loans and Small Business Administration loans are on standby and food safety inspections have been delayed. There are many other smaller things that are affected, not to mention all the federal workers who are either laid off or being forced to work with no pay during the shutdown because their services are considered “essential.”

With no progress, it’s anyone’s guess how long this will continue, but each day it does, it is costing the country millions of dollars. It’s time the people start to demand that their elected officials - both the president and congressional leaders - return to the bargaining table and find out what areas they can agree on and get the government working again.

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