Duncan on what Republicans call "The Schumer Shutdown" of US government

Congressman Duncan Condemns the “Schumer Shutdown” w-UPDATE

 

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC, Laurens County) released the following statement after Senate Democrats voted no on legislation to fund the government, which ultimately caused the bill to fail:

“I am deeply disturbed that Senate Democrats have put the entire country in jeopardy with party politics, hurting brave men and women in uniform and low-income children who depend on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 

“Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) directed his party to disregard their duties as Members of Congress to fund the government, and instead initiate a filibuster around an artificial deadline regarding an unconstitutional program, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

“Instead of realistically focusing on government shutdown deadlines, Democrats created nationwide hysteria convincing millions of people that DACA was ending today, instead of its real deadline in March. This is extremely reckless. 

“I believe conversations surrounding border security and DACA must happen, but we have weeks to continue those negotiations. Abdicating your duty to fund the government in order to make a political statement is nothing short of insane. 

“I am hopeful Democrats will realize their wrongdoing and end their filibuster over funding the government as soon as possible.”  

 

#SchumerShutdown Update Monday 9:00am: The Senate was originally scheduled to vote around 1AM last night on the exact same funding bill that Democrats originally filibustered, but this time with a shorter extension date (most likely only until February 8th). Ultimately, nothing was voted on. While the buzz in Washington is that some type of deal on a short-term spending bill is close at hand, nothing has been finalized. The Senate is currently scheduled to vote at noon today, so that will be the next opportunity to look for some kind of a breakthrough.

Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell seem pretty firm on their position that they will not negotiate ANY immigration policy reforms while the government is shutdown, and I strongly support them in taking that position. Congress isn't going to come up with good policy with a gun to our heads, and we should never allow non-citizens to be prioritized over our own military, which is what Democrats did by forcing a shutdown over immigration reform.

I've been trying to answer as many of your questions as possible over the past few days, and will continue to do so. One question that I see keep popping up is on the difference between a budget, appropriations, and "continuing resolutions," and why we don't already have full year funding in place. These are great questions, and let me do my best to explain.

On the federal level the budget and the appropriations processes are separate. This is very different than the way most state legislatures operate. On the federal level, first Congress is supposed to pass a budget. A budget is mostly a non-binding document that sets a blueprint for how Congress is going to spend money. The President offers his own budget, different factions in Congress write their own versions, and ultimately the House and the Senate come up with one and pass it. A budget only requires a majority vote to pass the House and the Senate, and does not require the President's signature. Despite popular belief, Congress has passed a budget for this year.

In theory, once a budget has passed, Congress then moves on to the appropriations process. This is where all the details of the budget are filled in. The appropriations process gets very specific, setting the funding levels for specific programs and actually setting policy in the process. The appropriations process is divided up into 12 separate bills, which together make up all the issues that make up what is known as "discretionary" spending (basically everything other than Medicare, Social Security, VA Benefits, ect). For example, Commerce, Justice, & Science is just one of the 12 appropriations bills, and covers everything from the Department of Justice, the Judicial Branch, the Commerce Department, and agencies like NASA.

Last year, for the first time in a long while, the House actually passed all 12 appropriations bills and sent them to the Senate for consideration. However, this is where the dysfunction begins. Unlike the budget process, the appropriations process can be filibustered in the Senate, and thus essentially takes 60 votes in order for something to pass (remember that the current Republican majority in the Senate is 51). Because of the extreme difficulty in producing a product that can get 60 votes in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has decided that following the normal appropriations process would be a waste of time. I strongly disagree with McConnell on this. I think the Senate should be forced to do their work, follow the regular legislative process, and send their best product over for to the House for us to work out our differences there. That's the process that our Founding Fathers created, and believe it's the best way to get things done. Unfortunately though, this is not a problem unique to McConnell. This was the common practice that took place during the Obama Administration as well.

When there's a breakdown in the appropriations process, there are two options remaining to fund government. An omnibus spending bill, or a Continuing Resolution. An omnibus is a large spending bill that combines some or all of the appropriations bills in them, and usually contains policy items as well. A continuing resolution is a short-term spending measure, with some type of an end date on it, that simply continues the previous formula for funding government.

Because there hasn't been an agreement by the two parties on a spending level, we've been passing these continuing resolutions as a way of kicking the can down the road on a largely funding agreement. I hate continuing resolutions, and have voted against them in many circumstances. Continuing resolutions tend to be the easiest way to move forward, because like I said, they are just a continuation of the status quo, so they represent a continuation of the last compromise.

What has really gummed up the works now though is that Democrats have decided they want to add the immigration issue as a condition to any more government funding. I agree that we need to stop operating off of these continuing resolutions, but moving the goal posts and depending we deal with DACA as a condition on government funding is reckless and irresponsible.

I apologize for the length of this post, but I hope this was useful is sorting out some of the terms you're hearing, and what the nature of the problem is.

 

 

 

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