Thursday morning, Senate leaders agreed to propose a budget that would avoid another government shutdown like the one we had in January. The proposed budget consisted of about $300 billion in additional funds over two years for military and nonmilitary programs, more than $80 billion in disaster relief in response to last year’s hurricanes and wildfires and a higher statutory debt ceiling.
Another government shutdown looked avoidable.
On Thursday night, much to the dismay of Republican and Democratic leaders, Sen. Rand Paul protested the bill, and at 12:01 a.m Friday morning, the United States government was partially shut down again.
Shortly before 2 a.m., the Senate voted 71-28 to approve the deal. Around 5:30 a.m., the House voted 240-186 to approve the deal, then sent it to the president’s desk. Although the shutdown was technically a “funding gap” since government services went uninterrupted due to the time, the principle is what’s important.
What does this short-lived shutdown represent? Fiscal conservatism is dead, and the Tea Party is fake.
This bill had its issues on both sides of the aisle. Some on the left side of the aisle voted “no” because there wasn’t any room for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Some on the right side of the aisle called out the bill’s absurd spending.
Let’s put this in perspective.
A $300 billion spending bill, along with a higher statutory debt ceiling, was approved in a Republican majority Senate, a Republican majority House and a Republican White House.
This is the same House and Senate Republican majority that was voted into office during the Tea Party wave of 2010. These are the same Republicans who called out President Barack Obama’s absurd spending habits and voted against them.
The bill passed early Friday morning means that the Republicans no longer have budgetary reconciliation. This means that neither Republicans in the Senate nor in the House can pass anything with a simple majority. Subsequently, this means that congressional Republicans will not get anything meaningful passed before this year’s midterms, besides DACA … maybe.
This will have lasting implications not only for the fiscal health of this country but also for Republicans’ chances of controlling the House of Representatives come 2019.
What was suspected – but was confirmed on Friday morning – is not only that fiscal conservatism is dead and the Tea Party was fake but also that Republican majorities do not matter. Only a Republican supermajority could truly be called a majority.
Republicans will tout their conservatism when there is a Democrat in the White House. They will pass Obamacare repeals and act as though they are against spending beyond the imagination.
But as soon as a Republican was in the White House, Obamacare repeal attempts failed multiple times, and a $300 billion budget deal was passed.
So, as the debt ceiling is raised and the debt continually spirals out of control, so does our country’s fiscal health. The process no longer matters and, apparently, neither do the American people.
Paul said it best in a tweet right after midnight Friday morning: “Tonight, you could feel the frustration and embarrassment growing in Congress as we exposed the hypocrisy of Republicans who are joining in an unholy alliance and spending free-for-all with Democrats at the expense of the American people and our party’s supposed principles.”
Reagan Meredith is a sophomore political science major from Monroe, Louisiana.