Since the last fiscal year ended on Sept. 30, the federal government has been operating on short-term spending bills, and on Thursday evening the fate of the newest spending bill was thrown into doubt when U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., single-handedly delayed a vote on the measure. This most recent battle comes just two weeks after the federal government shut down on midnight of Jan. 20, only to reopen three days later.
The proposal under consideration Thursday night would fund the government for an additional six weeks, providing lawmakers the time to draft a long-term spending bill to see the government through the remainder of the fiscal year. The bill has provoked the ire of liberal members of the Yale community and Yale alumni in Congress, as it does not include a resolution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which Democrats are demanding be addressed before a final budget is approved, and does not represent a long-term solution to the budget crisis.
Yale alumni in the Senate did not respond to requests to comment. But in press releases and at public events, some commented on DACA and on the importance of reaching a final budget agreement.
“We cannot continue limping along from one budget to the next — that’s no way to run our government,” Sen. Sherrod Brown ’74, D-Ohio, said in a Jan. 22 press release.
U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse GRD ’04, R-Neb., also expressed frustration about Congress’ inability to reach a final deal on the budget, saying in a press release that “this garbage is what happens when Washington isn’t serious about budgeting year after year.”
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson ’65, D-Fla., said he wanted more aid relief for those affected by the hurricanes in Florida and Puerto Rico in the spending bill, while Brown said he wanted the legislature to help military veterans and young children.
In a press release, Nelson said that it is time for Republican leaders to stop using Children’s Health Insurance Program children and families as “hostage[s]” to their failed budget process.
“These are not bargaining chips — they are kids — more than 209,000 in Ohio and nine million nationwide. And they are depending on us to do our jobs,” Brown said in the press release.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus and some congressional Democrats have already said they will vote against the temporary spending bill. The Republican Party currently controls the House of Representatives, the Senate and the executive branch, but it has been divided by disagreements within the party over issues such as the size of the budget and immigration reform within the bill.
Andrew Gooch, postdoctoral associate in the Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies, said there is “a lot of division” within Congress and that the spending bill could fail if Democrats and the dissenting three dozen members of the House Freedom Caucus vote against it.
Gooch also noted that Republicans are divided, as some want “to help the party and brand as a whole,” while others want to support the president’s agenda.
Walter Shapiro, lecturer of political science at Yale and a columnist for Roll Call who has covered the last ten presidential elections, emphasized the lack of unity, saying that the House in particular has been “awesomely undisciplined” under Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
“The bottom line is that Republicans have control of all three branches of government, and they have a greater degree of political power in this country than they have had since the 1920s, and when you have that much power, I don’t think there’s any excuse for not being able to come up with a budget or keep the government open,” said Jordan Cozby ’20, president of the Yale College Democrats.
Shapiro said he hopes the dysfunction present in the federal government shows voters who abstained from voting or voted for third party candidates that “elections have consequences” and moves them to vote in future elections.
Some Democrats hoped that Republicans would be amenable to adding provisions to the temporary spending bill to aid disenfranchised communities, including immigrants, natural disaster victims and struggling families. Given that no DACA resolution was included in the spending bill and that the program is ending in March, Shapiro said it is “a very scary time for [DACA recipients]” and urged Republicans not to penalize those protected by the executive order.
There are more than 800,000 DACA recipients in the U.S.
Chloe Glass | firstname.lastname@example.org