Budget Battles, 2015 Edition
By David TaylorPublished October 22, 2015By David Taylor 10/22/2015
September 30th Congress passed a short-term spending bill postponing a possible shutdown until December. (1) October 1, 2013 the government shut down for 16 days when Congress failed to reach an agreement on a budget for the fiscal year. During the 2013 shutdown hundreds of thousands of federal employees were out of work without pay, nonessential departments and employees were furloughed, V.A. benefits were disrupted, and The United States suffered an estimated 24 billion dollar loss as a result of the shutdown (2)
Despite the prospect of another shutdown looming, Republicans in the Senate threatened to attach an amendment defunding Planned Parenthood to the continuing resolution agreement. This move from the Right wing of the Republican Party is in part a response to several leading Republican Presidential Candidates calls for the removal of federal funding for the nonprofit. However without sufficient unity within the party, the coming resignation of Speaker Boehner (3) and a potential political nightmare with being linked to the shutdown, an attempt may be made to cease funding for Planned Parenthood through a process known as budget reconciliation. This would allowed Congress to pass a bipartisan spending bill to avoid a shutdown, while leaving the issue on the funding of Planned Parenthood for another day. An option remains for congressional Republicans to pass a reconciliation bill, possibly forcing the President to veto. (4)
This round of budget negotiations marks another event in a continuing trend where partisan gridlock halts the budget process and complicates the legislative process. In 2013 when the republican leadership attempted to defund Obamacare by keeping the budget hostage the costly shutdown was damaging both economically and politically for the party. These dangerous and radical political maneuvers by more radical members of the Republican Party are creating a legislative environment that are bending Congressional rules that threatens the effectiveness of the federal government. While arguments over the budget fall under the constitutional responsibility of congress, this responsibility has been abused as a platform for issues and agendas that haven't gotten through a normal legislative process.