Congress passing and the president signing another stopgap spending bill keeping the government open another four weeks until Dec. 20 is just kicking the can down the road.
Another federal government shut down may take place in December when the most recent temporary budget extension is set to expire. This reminds me of “Stuck In The Middle With You” by the band Stealers Wheel. The words “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you” from the song.
It perfectly sums up the chaos and gridlock in Washington.
How nice that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and their Democratic colleagues have been working days, nights and weekends for over two years on developing a case to impeach President Trump.
A majority of Americans would prefer they expend the same amount of energy in dealing with more pressing problems such as passing a full one-year budget on time by Oct. 1.
If federal civil servants face periodic furloughs, so too should White House employees, members of Congress and their staff. Federal employees work just as hard as their counterparts in the private sector.
Many in the military, CIA, FBI, United States Marshals, ICE, Border Security and Coast Guard put their lives on the line every day protecting our nation. They remain on the payroll but can suffer from a delay in their pay.
The government shut down and furlough of non-essential federal government employees is a waste of taxpayers’ dollars. Even when furloughs take place, Congress has ended up retroactively paying federal employees for the days they could not report for duty.
Both the President and Congress need to work together if we are ever going to put our fiscal house in order and end future threats of both sequestering and furloughs. We need to return to the time when Congress held budget hearings for each department during the summer.
A real balanced budget, agency by agency, was adopted during an open process. Members of Congress, federal employees, the public, watchdog groups and media were afforded sufficient time to understand the full contents prior to adoption.
Full federal budgets were adopted on time prior to the start of any new Federal Fiscal year on October 1. This was a time many years ago when there were no furloughs.
There are just as many good managers in the government as in the private sector. If their superiors would give them the authority and flexibility to manage budgets, they could find savings without having to consider furloughing or laying off employees.
They could easily find $5 billion for the Wall (President Trump) and $5 billion more toward the Gateway Tunnel (Sen. Schumer) out of a $4 trillion budget. Both would come away winners for their cause.
Millions of Americans have cut far more out of their family budgets and managed to survive. Everyone knows that the thousands of Washington K Street lobbyists, representing every conceivable special interest group, work behind the scenes with the White House, Congress and Congressional staffers in writing their own favored special provisions into every Federal agency funding bill prior to adoption.
We can’t furlough the thousands of lobbyists who swarm around Washington like bees searching for honey. Hard-working civil servants pay taxes just like everyone else.
The White House and Congress should be held accountable for their actions, or in this case inactions, just as employees are at personnel evaluations. Voters can conduct their own personnel evaluations of both Congress and the President on Election Day in 2020.
Both the president, members of Congress and their respective employees should be docked one full day’s pay for each day our pending full federal fiscal year 2020 budget is not adopted on time. They need to perform this most basic requirement of their jobs, which is passing a budget on time, just like federal civil servants do on a daily basis.
Why not end bipartisan gridlock?.
Instead of another in a series of stop-gap continuing resolutions to keep the government open, pass a clean spending bill with no attached amendments for the balance of fiscal Year 2020 ending on Sept. 30 using Fiscal Year 2019 numbers.
(Larry Penner is a transportation historian, advocate and writer who previously worked 31 years for the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office.)