When we think of the holiday season, giving your time, resources and effort to make a positive difference in the world in which we live becomes an imperative for spreading holiday cheer. The United States Congress, however, has been putting forth their efforts for a different cause during this holiday season; preventing a government shutdown. In September, Congress was able to divert a government shutdown by collaborating on a provisional resolution to fund the government through December 11th, but with only a few days remaining until the 11th, a December shutdown now looms over Congress.
On 11 December 2015, the government will shutdown if Congress does not decide on several issues ranging from federal government spending to federal grant funding, from education to the nation’s refugee resettlement program. In order to avert a shutdown, congressional policymakers must pass a substantial funding bill in just a few short days.
As the new House speaker, Paul Ryan has been urging Republicans to stand in solidarity on issues that include acting to tighten security on the nation’s refugee resettlement program following the November terrorist attacks in Paris. Furthermore, Speaker Paul Ryan is encouraging his colleagues not to let Democrats use the calendar deadline against them when a government funding bill comes to the floor before December 11th. At the same time, Senate Democrats have already begun to prepare their end-of-year strategy for passing an omnibus spending by holding a bipartisan Senate lunch discussion on December 3rd in which policymakers will zero in on how to handle pending tax legislation and the nearing spending bill deadline (www.politico.com).
In the event that Democrat and Republican lawmakers cannot compromise to pass legislation to fund the federal government, a government shutdown would inconvenience citizens across the country and burden many whose personal economy is tied to the federal government in one way or another (www.money.cnn.com). The diagram below highlights eight negative impacts that occur as a result of a government shutdown:
The good news, according to politico.com, is that virtually no one in Democratic or Republican leadership believes there will be a government shutdown. Indeed, Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have entered a phase of deal negotiation that includes the trading of proposals to fund the federal government through the end of fiscal year 2016. In fact, one part of the ‘omnibus’ spending bill that both Democrats and Republicans are open to reforming is the Visa Waiver Program, which currently allows travelers from 38 countries to visit the United States for three months without a visa (www.politico.com). However, the Visa Waiver Program is just one of about one hundred different policy provisions that both parties must successfully negotiate before December 11th.
As the budget showdown looms during this holiday season, we can only hope that policymakers will keep in mind the greater good for the country while maintaining a sense of holiday spirit. For those who may be less hopeful, it would be wise to contact your local representatives to voice your concerns about the impending budget showdown. After all, government spending and federal grants pay for healthcare, schools, public safety, and a plethora of other programs that affect all Americans all year round.