The federal government will shut down if the Senate and House of Representatives fail to do their jobs and pass appropriations bills by Sept. 30.
Despite assurances from leaders of both parties that this year would be different, Americans are staring at a rerun of the same old show, and they’re tired of watching. Here we go again.
To date, the House has passed just one of the 12 funding bills in question. The Senate has passed none.
This is unacceptable. One of the legislative branch’s core functions each Congress is to hold a rigorous and transparent debate over how best to spend taxpayer money to ensure that the government is operating responsibly that reflects the wishes of the people. To put it bluntly, this has not happened for a very long time.
The last time the federal budget had a surplus was in 2001; today, we’re running a $1.6 trillion deficit. Back then, the United States had a national debt of “only” $5 trillion; now, it’s $32.9 trillion and climbing at a rate that is difficult to fathom. We’ll be at $33 trillion by the time both houses of Congress are back in session at the same time after a long summer recess.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy promised during the 2022 midterm election campaign that he’d get these spending bills passed regularly before the Sept. 30 deadline. We all know Congress can get big things done when it chooses to, and now would be a good time to rise to the occasion. Americans are in no mood for more of the same failed status quo.
The big difference with this year’s government funding mismanagement crisis is that last December’s omnibus debacle and President Biden’s fraudulent Inflation Reduction Act are still fresh in people’s minds.
The 4,000-page, $1.7 trillion funding bill that was foisted on American taxpayers last year without serious consideration or debate was a slap in the face. Spending a gargantuan amount of taxpayer money with such carelessness is sickeningly arrogant and a profile in horrible stewardship of our national treasure.
Congress must stop funding the radical Biden agenda. The Department of Homeland Security is being funded to manage Mr. Biden’s disastrous border policy that has yielded a fentanyl crisis, a humanitarian crisis, and a national security crisis.
The Department of Defense is being funded to throw money at Ukraine without a coherent policy or adequate oversight. Under Lloyd Austin, the department seems more focused on winning some “most ‘woke’ agency” award than keeping our country safe.
The Biden Department of Justice under Attorney General Merrick Garland is being funded to administer a two-tiered system of justice that our country will be dealing with for decades to come. The Energy Department is being funded to come up with new regulations that would make life even more expensive for working families and maintain America’s dependence on foreign sources of energy.
And perhaps worst of all, Mr. Biden’s unelected bureaucracy is being funded to kneel before the altar of climate extremism instead of focusing on hope, growth, and the promise of upward mobility for every American.
So, the fundamental question is, why do we continue to fund this broken government expecting a different result? This is the very definition of insanity.
Polls indicate that Americans are more than ready for a course correction to save our beloved nation from its downward trajectory. Mr. Biden has a negative 13-point job approval rating; 65% think America is on the wrong track, and only 24% believe Congress is doing an adequate job.
It’s obvious that our political leaders are not listening to us. The stark reality is that if Congress can’t pass appropriations bills through regular order by the end of the month, a constructive partial government shutdown is far more palatable than another season of bloated COVID-era continuing resolutions that will likely lead to another completely irresponsible omnibus bill resulting in more of the same.
A constructive shutdown would force Mr. Biden and the uniparty in Congress to acknowledge that they are presiding over a decaying country that is drowning in debt amid a spin cycle of bad decisions.
The issues of government spending, debt, and our out-of-control executive branch would immediately be catapulted to the forefront of the 2024 presidential campaign — exactly where they belong.
It would also make clear that the so-called Fiscal Responsibility Act that was enacted in June does nothing meaningful to stop our charge off the cliff.
Voters want to fund a smaller, more efficient government that makes good decisions and delivers core competency. But that’s not what they’re getting — not by a long shot.
The days of using the specter of a government shutdown as a political cudgel to keep spending irresponsibly are over; people understand that life will go on.
In the wake of COVID-19, the country needs an honest debate about our dire fiscal situation that produces a lasting strategy for getting out of the deep hole we’re in.
If a government shutdown makes that happen, Americans would be well served.
• David N. Bossie is president of Citizens United, and he served as deputy campaign manager for Donald Trump.