For the past few weeks, Congress has been attempting to agree on a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. With only a few hours to spare, congressional negotiators reached an agreement that could end up funding the government through September.
The government is forced to shut down when Congress can’t come to an agreement on a spending bill. Now, a “shutdown” might seem a little scary, but it doesn’t mean that the entire government powers down.
When the government shuts down, portions of the government that are federally funded such as national parks or zoos, cease their operations entirely. Other sectors, such as the Department of Defense and Homeland Security, remain partially open. Employees working for sectors that shut down entirely are furloughed, or given a leave of absence without pay.
In the event that Congress and the White House can’t come to an agreement, passing a short-term bill would allow the government to stay open while a bill is still in the works.
Tension and debate
President Donald Trump’s demands to fund construction of a border wall, along with numerous cuts in funding for programs such as Planned Parenthood, caused the tensions to rise between Democrats and Republicans. Fortunately, Trump was able to set aside his demands this time, allowing Congress to reach an agreement and pass a short-term bill.
This short-term bill includes $12.5 billion in military defense funding, $1.5 billion for border security and doesn’t block funding for Planned Parenthood or sanctuary cities. Democrats have stressed that none of the money intended for border security will go toward funding the construction of a border wall.
But while the short-term bill may seem like a solution, it is only temporary.
What happens in a week?
The short term spending bill only keeps the government in action for one more week. By May 6, lawmakers have to come to an agreement on a larger $1 trillion deal to fund government operations until the end of the fiscal year — Sept. 30.
Unfortunately, even if Congress is able to keep the government funded all the way to the end of the fiscal year, this situation will most likely show up again in the fall. If Trump makes similar demands for the next fiscal year, members of Congress will be stuck in the same situation they were in these past few weeks, causing everyone to be on shutdown watch all over again.
The short-term bill is a temporary solution to a potentially recurrent problem. Trump’s demands for a border wall and the defunding of Planned Parenthood will constantly create tensions between members of Congress and create situations like this in the future. Congress and the White House need to come to some sort of agreement on funding because short-term spending bills won’t always save the day.
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