By Sarah Guy, Manager of Legislative and Media Affairs, IACP
|The U.S government reopened on October 17, 2013, after a 16-day shutdown. This article, written during the shutdown, discusses the political and budgetary stances of the parties in both bodies of Congress. Find an update regarding the shutdown and its effects here.|
s we approached the midnight deadline on September 30, it became clear that House and Senate Congressional Leaders were not going to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running beyond the start of the new fiscal year.
When alarm clocks rang the morning of October 1, around 800,000 federal employees that were deemed non-essential woke up to realize they did not have to go to work and would remain furloughed until Congress could work out its differences and pass a CR. Among those furloughed, were approximately 14 percent of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) workforce and 15 percent of the Department of Justice (DOJ) workforce.
The disagreement between the two bodies of Congress continues and remains focused around the congressional Republicans' desire to attach a provision to repeal or delay parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the CR. President Obama and congressional Democrats insist that any change to the ACA is a non-starter.
For now, House Republicans and some Senate Republicans remain steadfast that any deal to reopen the government include the healthcare delay or repeal language, while the president and Democrats demand a clean bill.
House Republicans have tried several different strategies, including trying to pass piecemeal spending measures that would reopen certain parts of the federal government; however, these proposals have been rejected by Senate Democrats and President Obama who oppose any short-term spending bills that do not provide money for the whole government.
Congressional Democrats feel as if they have already compromised by offering a CR with the lower spending levels called for by the sequester.
As the shutdown continues to drag on, it appears as if the battle over reopening the government will become intertwined with the need to increase the statutory debt ceiling. The Treasury Department has indicated that the debt ceiling needs to be raised by October 17, or the government will run out of borrowing authority and will have to operate with cash on hand. With no immediate end in sight to the shutdown, the debt ceiling is becoming part of the ongoing discussions.
One possibility is that both sides could agree to temporarily reopening the federal government and increasing borrowing authority. However, this may be only a short-term fix to allow more time to negotiate a more comprehensive budget deal.
Regardless, passing a full-year CR or individual FY 2014 appropriations bills will continue to be a priority in the remaining days of the first session of the 113th Congress. The IACP will continue to be steadfast in its advocacy for funding for programs of importance to the law enforcement community.
U.S. law enforcement agencies are already operating with increasingly shrinking budgets, while being asked to do more each day to safeguard their communities. And while IACP is sensitive to the current federal funding dilemma, funding must continue for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG); Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants; Violence Against Women Act programs; state and local preparedness grant programs through DHS; and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In addition, Congress will likely resume many of the hearings that were cancelled due to the shutdown. Hearing topics are expected to include the legalization of marijuana, NSA surveillance, stand-your-ground laws, and human trafficking. ♦
Please cite as:
Sarah Guy, “Shutdown Drags on as Congress Remains at an Impasse,” Legislative Alert, The Police Chief 80 (November 2013): 8.