COLUMN: Government Shutdown Wasted Time

January 22, 2018
Weekly Column and Op-Ed

As your representative in Congress, I take the responsibility to provide for the federal government’s operations very seriously. Continuing Resolutions, or extensions of funding from previous fiscal years, are a terrible budgeting option for our country. This fiscal year, the House of Representatives passed all twelve of our bills necessary for the appropriations process, but the Senate has still not even passed a single one. This leaves Congress only capable of funding the government in short spans, resulting in an unstable environment for our military and the vital programs that the American people rely on. Despite the stakes, blocking funding for the federal government was the option that Senate Democrats chose by rejecting the Continuing Resolution on January 19th, 2018, which resulted in shutting down the federal government.

I, along with the majority of my colleagues in the House of Representatives, voted before the deadline to pass legislation that would continue government funding until February 16th, 2018. The legislation also provided long-term funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which insures over 60,000 low-income children in Washington state, for six years – the longest in the program’s history. There was nothing objectionable in this bill that the Democrats opposed, yet they blocked it anyway.

Even a brief government shutdown has real implications for the people of our country and for Central Washington. Without federal appropriations, the brave men and women of our military don’t receive a paycheck. This is absolutely unacceptable, which is why I cosponsored legislation introduced by Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) to ensure that our service members continue to be paid as they keep working to protect our country and prohibit members of Congress from receiving a paycheck. The federal government also operates critical priorities here at home, including cleanup at the Hanford Site and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which together employ more than 13,000 workers. These employees rely on stable, reliable funding, which Senate Democrats chose to block.

I am frustrated at the uncertainty and waste of time caused by the temporary shutdown—especially when it comes to negotiating a solution for DACA beneficiaries. During the 2013 shutdown, Senator Schumer (D-NY) even remarked, “We could say, ‘We’re shutting down the government. We’re not going to raise the debt ceiling until you pass immigration reform.’ It would be governmental chaos.”

As a strong supporter of immigration reform, I was very disappointed that the Democrats in the Senate chose governmental chaos. I am concerned that their decision short-circuited immigration negotiations and did not get us any closer to a shared goal of finding a bipartisan solution for DACA beneficiaries and a secure border. The fruitless attempt to shut down the government failed to make progress on a negotiated solution for DACA.

Democrats finally agreed to join Republicans to restore a fully-functioning federal government—but only for three weeks instead of four. Now that the unnecessary shutdown is behind us and CHIP has been renewed for six years, Congress must return to negotiating and building support for a legislative solution requested by the President to provide certainty for DACA beneficiaries and ensuring our borders are secure.