Amid all the swirling uncertainties about who’s to blame for shutting down our federal government this past weekend, let us state this much with absolute certainty: If you’re a Republican, you believe in your heart this was a Democratic shutdown. If you’re a Democrat, you believe in your heart this was a Republican shutdown. So it goes.
President Trump’s pronouncements, issued through tweets, rhetoric and even the White House answering machine, don’t settle the question. During the 2013 shutdown of “green-eggs-and-ham” fame on President Obama’s watch, Trump — then an armchair pundit — declared without equivocation that the president of the United States is always responsible for any shutdown. As president, however, Trump assumes no such responsibility.
Our view? A pox on both chambers of Congress and the White House for all too readily justifying the low poll numbers routinely given both branches. No less than Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a vigorous Trump champion, angrily blamed the shutdown on scoundrels in Trump’s employ who convinced Trump to disown the very Senate agreement regarding “Dreamers” to which Trump eagerly agreed just hours earlier.
Republican Congressman Bill Flores, who represents Waco, dutifully blames the Democrats but is right to stress one victory for all in Monday’s vote to reopen our government: “enacting the House’s prior bipartisan action to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Plan for six years for nearly 9 million low-income children that rely on the program, including almost 24,000 children in the 17th Congressional District.”
Unfortunately, Monday’s pact to reopen the government only holds till Feb. 8. Congress and the president will heap further embarrassment on themselves and the nation if they don’t get it right on a reasonable compromise that balances concern for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients — polls consistently show even most Republicans favor making these youths legal — and at least some moderate improvements in border security (though as conservative columnist George Will and others note, it’s already pretty secure). U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the Texas Republican leader who will play a key role in any compromise, says border security in this case is “best defined as a system involving infrastructure, technology and people.”
Let’s hope more lawmakers on Capitol Hill and the president better grasp how government works in a republic within the next 15 days. Compromises gave us the Constitution and Bill of Rights. No one gets everything he or she wants. If that principle was good enough for the Founding Fathers, it’s good enough for the current slate of leaders who claim spiritual linkage to them.
One more thing: Let’s have a straight, clean, up-or-down vote that ensures next time there’s a breakdown in governance by the president (whoever it is) and Congress our military personnel — the only true patriots in all this — get paid. Americans should be outraged that members of our armed forces are regularly used as convenient political pawns by both parties. This disgraceful charade must stop for their sake and our common defense.