October 2, 2023

Shutdown Averted

The U.S. Congress passed a stopgap funding bill late on Saturday with overwhelming Democratic support after Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy backed down from an earlier demand by his party's hardliners for a partisan bill…

“McCarthy abandoned party hardliners' insistence that any bill pass the House with only Republican votes… The House voted 335-91 to fund the government through Nov. 17, with more Democrats than Republicans supporting it.” Reuters

“Democratic U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman faced investigation on Sunday, the morning after he pulled a fire alarm in the Capitol complex as his party was trying to delay a key vote, prompting an evacuation of a congressional office building… Bowman, in a statement, admitted to pulling the fire alarm, which he said he regretted, but disputed that he did so to delay the vote.” Reuters

“Rep. Matt Gaetz said Sunday he will try to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a fellow Republican, from his leadership position this week.” AP News

Many on both sides are frustrated with the process and also critical of Bowman:

Why is it that Congress cannot get their acts straight? Why is it that we have to be in this position at least once a year, or so it seems? This is beyond frustrating as a taxpayer, and I am sure you feel the same. This pathetic attempt by Congress to prevent a shutdown just delays the inevitable. We are going to be doing this again in 45 days. We've put a stranglehold on ourselves right as we start the holiday season, and we all know how that spells disaster.”
Matt Funicello, RedState

“A fight over the speakership takes away from the work of passing a long-term funding deal, as well as negotiating the future of aid to Ukraine… Though 45 days may sound like plenty of time to pass a spending bill, it’s not, particularly given the major partisan divide over government spending. Most Republicans, and especially the hard-right Republicans like Gaetz, are demanding spending cuts across the board, as well as much more stringent border controls, at odds with most Democrats. Anything that distracts from coming to an agreement over a full year of government funding increases [the] risk of a shutdown come November 17.”
Ellen Ioanes, Vox

“Democrats, at first, didn’t seem to know what to do with [McCarthy’s’s ‘clean’ bill] offer. They insisted on time to pore through the 71-page bill once it came out—a bill McCarthy was hoping to vote on within a matter of minutes. They stalled by moving to adjourn. House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries bought time by using a privilege reserved for party leaders to speak on the floor without a time limit…

“Those are all typical stalling tactics. An atypical stalling tactic, though, is pulling a fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building and forcing an evacuation. This is something middle-schoolers do to avoid taking tests, though, which is perhaps why former middle-school principal New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman was familiar with the tactic and chose to do it… [Bowman’s defense] sounds more than a bit shaky, and one might think he’d let Capitol Police know of his accident before police evacuated the building. He’s in trouble.”
Jim Newell, Slate

“Bowman got caught trying to obstruct Congressional business and now he’s making up a story. Here’s the thing – Bowman started a charter school in the Bronx. He is the founder and former principal of the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action. He knows what a fire alarm looks like and how they are used. He knows it is not a door opener. Bowman assumes everyone is dumb enough to take his explanation and let it drop…

“Frankly, this man should be ejected from Congress. This irrational judgment call of his to pull a fire alarm, thus endangering lives and triggering first responders unnecessarily is not acceptable. It is against the law to pull a false alarm – it is a misdemeanor. Republican leadership needs to hold Bowman accountable.”
Karen Townsend, Hot Air

Other opinions below.

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A libertarian's take

We know from history that shutdowns don't really save money. After the record 35-day shutdown that ended in January 2019, the Congressional Budget Office found that about $18 billion in federal spending was delayed—less than half of one percent of the $4.4 trillion spent that year. The actual savings were even less, since half of that total was the result of not paying federal employees for five weeks, which means they were immediately wiped out when the government reopened and those workers got their back pay…

“If the government had shut down on Sunday morning, it wouldn't have been the dramatically disruptive event that so many in the media and bureaucracy wanted to portray it as. But it wouldn't have been a step toward solving America's fiscal problems either. What happens between now and November will be crucial.”
Eric Boehm, Reason

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