As seems to be the case with everything regarding national politics, the Republican and Democrat leaders were bickering and the public only heard what the media let it. The recurring theme reported by the media was that the Republicans were to blame for the horrors of the shutdown.
As anyone in Politics 101 could tell you, the House of Representatives is granted the constitutional right to grant or withhold money and funding. Thus, the House was within its grounds when it left out funding for Obamacare, though the administration will have you believe that was not the case. Additionally, the Senate was within its constitutionally granted powers to refuse to accept the bills from the House that leave out funding for Obamacare.
Both chambers of Congress are acting within their powers; however, only one provided a plan that would have prevented the shutdown — that is the Republican-led House. The Senate rejected the plan to fund the government, which is what led to the shutdown.
Further, the media, trumpeting Obama, claimed that the Republicans should “do their job” and compromise in order to end the shutdown. Apparently, Obama believes that compromise means the Republicans should cave in to his demands. Meanwhile, the administration ensured that the effects of the shutdown were overblown.
Look no further than the World War II Memorial, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is not regularly staffed. WWII veterans had been planning a visit to the memorial for some time, yet the administration made sure that barricades were put in place to restrict access to the memorial. The Republican National Committee offered to cover costs associated with keeping the war memorial open during the shutdown, only for the offer to be refused by the administration. Yet, Obama continues to claim that the Republicans are to blame.
Additionally, the House attempted multiple times to fund certain aspects of the federal government in a piecemeal approach, focusing on the areas that impact Americans the most. One example is a bill that would fund the National Institutes of Health, ensuring that pertinent cancer research would continue despite the shutdown. House Republicans also attempted to pass bills that would fund Veterans Affairs and national parks.
The White House budget office, however, stated that Obama strongly opposed those bills and would veto them if they had reached his desk.
Further still, one park service ranger in Washington went public with his outrage over the shutdown — not at the Republicans, though. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting,” he said.
During the shutdown, Obama still received the services of a personal chef, who was considered essential, yet residents of private homes that sit on federal land were forced out of the houses that they outright own.
Despite all of this, there were those who continued to blame the Republicans for the shutdown and repeat every word that comes out of Obama’s mouth as gospel. All it takes is looking beyond party affiliation in order to get to the truth — Obama, not the Republicans, was responsible for the shutdown. Unfortunately, that seems to be expecting too much of the public.
Trenton Winford is a senior public policy leadership major from Madison.