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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
News / Opinion / Editorials

In Our View: Focus on deal to avoid government shutdown

The Columbian
Published: September 13, 2023, 6:03am

As the House of Representatives returns to work this week, it is disconcerting that the primary topic of discussion seems to be whether Republicans will attempt to impeach President Joe Biden.

The prevalence of such talk is partly a sign of our political times. Far too many elected officials prefer headline-grabbing performative politics over governing — and far too many media outlets are willing to parlay such theatrics into ratings. But serious members of Congress are more concerned about the need to pass funding bills for a dozen major federal agencies.

The fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and without new funding, much of the federal government will shut down.

If this sounds like déjà vu, it’s because we suffered through the drama of a threatened shutdown in May. Then, House Republicans demanded cuts to federal spending before agreeing to raise the nation’s debt limit ceiling. Now, those same radicals are ignoring previous deals and demanding further cuts while also calling for an impeachment inquiry. Otherwise, they are willing to close the federal government.

With House Speaker Kevin McCarthy having a slim majority and lacking the will or political moxie to deal with insurgents from his own party, governing by crisis has become the default setting.

A bipartisan budget deal has been placed on the table, passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee that is chaired by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. “We have provided a clear bipartisan road map to fund the government under extremely difficult constraints, proving Congress can work together and through its differences,” Murray said.

But for the MAGA members of the House, “bipartisan” and “work together” are foreign ideas. “Our conference needs to stop capitulating to the left, more members that are in blue districts,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said. “That’s not what the donors are donating money for. And we need to stop allowing Biden-district Republicans to hold up our agenda.”

Far-right Republicans have threatened to remove McCarthy from the speakership if he does not capitulate to their demands.

Also at issue are calls to stop providing funds for Ukraine as it defends itself from an invasion by Russia. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has taken a firm stand on the issue, signaling a division with members of his party in the House.

“Standing with our allies against Putin is directly and measurably strengthening the U.S. military,” McConnell said. “Growing the U.S. industrial base and supporting thousands of good-paying American jobs. The overwhelming majority of the money we have appropriated is being spent here in America.”

While an impeachment investigation, spending cuts and Ukraine aid are topics worthy of discussion, a shutdown of the federal government would work against the American people, the American economy and American interests.

An analysis from Goldman Sachs estimates that a shutdown “would directly reduce growth by around 0.15 percentage point for each week it lasted, or about 0.2 percentage point per week once private sector effects were included.”

Mostly, a shutdown would further diminish trust in the federal government and demonstrate far-right Republicans’ disinterest in governing.

As Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Skamania, told The Columbian’s Editorial Board last week: “I hope we can keep the federal government open. It will take people putting on their big boy pants. There are real human costs to a shutdown.”