The threat of a government shutdown has become something of a holiday ritual alongside Thanksgiving and Christmas. You gather with friends and family over a Thanksgiving meal and return from the holidays to meet a hysterical press cycle warning of an imminent government shutdown if a deal isn't made by some date. This week is no different. Tomorrow is the deadline for lawmakers on the Hill to pass a spending bill preventing yet another government shutdown.
Typically, the party that makes the demands receives the flack for the shutdown. Let's take a brief look at recent government shutdowns.
October 2013 Shutdown
In October 2013 under President Obama, Congressional Republicans attempted to strip the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of funding, lining up against the spending bill that would fund it. After 13 days, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid got together and cut a deal that would minimize funding to the ACA and enforce harsher limits on who would be eligible. The Republicans received the flack for this one.
January 2018 Shutdown
In January 2018, President Trump oversaw a 3-day shutdown as Democrats and Republicans squabbled over DACA and the DREAM Act, which both dealt with protecting illegal immigrants and providing them a path to citizenship. You might remember this period of Trump's Presidency for the ever-present PR campaign talking about "Dreamers", and Nancy Pelosi's self-righteous grandstanding filibuster to force a vote on immigration issues which is Left-speak for how can we increase our voter base.
It was a contentious period wherein Trump worked to enforce established law and build a border wall while Democrats employed the classic and catty "Orange Man Bad" strategy. If you take it from the press, the Republicans were in the wrong here — for "moral" reasons — but Democrats initiated the shutdown.
December 2018 Shutdown
In December 2018, Trump demanded $5.7 billion to go towards the border wall. Reactions from Democrats were predictable. They said no, and ultimately, the longest government shutdown in US history began. It lasted for 35 days and cost the nation $5 billion dollars. After a temporary stopgap bill opened the government back up, the border wall received $1.375 billion in funding. Unpleased, Trump declared a state of emergency on the Southern border to free up capital for the completion of the wall.
By the end of his Presidency, Trump would complete 455 miles of wall, only 55 of which had been previously unwalled. As soon as Biden took office, he lifted the state of emergency, halted construction of the border wall, and declared his intention to strengthen and reinstate DACA. Since then, the US has seen the most border-crossings in its history. History will judge this one.
In December 2019, following Trump's impeachment for "colluding with foreign agents", Trump begrudgingly signed a stopgap spending bill funding the government into the next year.
The December 2020 funding debate hinged around the size of stimulus checks in the midst of the pandemic. Lawmakers ultimately settled on $600 checks which was more an insult than help in a lot of ways and despite the efforts of lawmakers like Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Bernie Sanders (D-VT) to vouch for $1200 checks.
Which all brings us to tomorrow. Republicans have begun to bark about how they will force a shutdown over Biden's vaccine mandate. If we're to judge by the actions of Newsmax and Fox News, two supposed bastions of Republicanism and little indentations where anti-vaccine mandate sentiments collect, then there's no reason to believe that Republican politicians will actually stick to their guns fighting the mandates. Newsmax recently parted ways with host Steve Cortes who refused the vaccine. Fox News provides employees the option of getting vaccinated or undergoing daily testing. Neither of these draw hard lines on the issue, and it's difficult to see how politicians chummy with the two networks would differ in practice.
A grand-standing effort by Republicans on the Hill would contribute no more to the movement against vaccine mandates than what is happening in the courts and on state and local levels. It's all theatre. Republicans cradle a delicate basket of momentum heading into the 2022 midterms due to Glenn Youngkin's victory in Virginia, inflation concerns, and the general incompetence of the Biden administration. Initiating a government shutdown would do the party no favors. Or, to take it from Mitch McConnell directly, “We won’t shut down.”
🐴 FROM A HORSE'S MOUTH
Unaware of how a Democracy works, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) said, “The fact that they want to walk right up to a government shutdown over a public health issue should frighten the American public. That’s exactly what they’re advocating here.”
What should we do with the American people who don't agree with the mandates? Maybe we'd be better off without them, Pete? Care to go on record with that one?
OTHER UPCOMING DEADLINES
- Dec. 15th – Treasury’s deadline to raise the debt limit
- Dec. 31st – Schumer’s deadline to pass Biden’s Build Back Better
- Dec. 31st – Deadline to pass National Defense Authorization Act