Editorial: Democrats, Republicans should pass new law to end government shutdowns

Enough with shutdown politics.

The recent 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government — and other shutdowns in recent years — illustrate how broken U.S. governance and political discourse have become. When Democrats or Republicans believe that they can gain political leverage by holding government services and employees hostage to their tantrums, it should come as a sign that something must change.

This time, it was President Trump who “owned” the shutdown. Prior outages were the fault of leaders in one political party or the other.

This latest shutdown thrust 800,000 federal workers either out of work or working without pay. Many thousands more federal contractors were left high and dry, probably without reimbursement. Brewers could not get federal approval for new beers. Airlines began cancelling flights. Various federal agencies were unavailable to the public or operating with skeleton crews.

Is this any way to run a constitutional republic? The United States is supposed to uphold the finest principles of democratic values, demonstrating to the world the value of our representative government and the merits of a free society.

Instead, this latest example feeds the idea that ours is a declining power, one to be ridiculed, not emulated. We become laughingstocks with every week, every day, every minute, every second that our government does not function.

So, after 35 days of drama, ineptitude, embarrassment and folly, we now face another deadline in February. And while posturing is occurring on both sides, we expect that neither Republicans nor Democrats have appetite for another shutdown so soon.

But who wants to take that chance? And what happens later this year or next?

Shutdowns should be prevented forever, as should the recurring debates about whether to raise the debt ceiling. Should Congress and the president opt to approve budgets that are not in balance — as is unfortunately the norm — the debt ceiling should automatically be lifted.

Various proposals exist to prohibit shutdowns. One idea is to halt funding for the legislative branch unless a budget is approved. Another would be to have automatic continuing resolutions funding the government at last year’s levels if any spending bill is not approved.

Each idea has merit and should be readily adopted. It’s time for Congress and the president to become good stewards of our federal government and end shutdowns once and for all.

Enough with shutdown politics.

The recent 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government — and other shutdowns in recent years — illustrate how broken U.S. governance and political discourse have become. When Democrats or Republicans believe that they can gain political leverage by holding government services and employees hostage to their tantrums, it should come as a sign that something must change.

This time, it was President Trump who “owned” the shutdown. Prior outages were the fault of leaders in one political party or the other.

This latest shutdown thrust 800,000 federal workers either out of work or working without pay. Many thousands more federal contractors were left high and dry, probably without reimbursement. Brewers could not get federal approval for new beers. Airlines began cancelling flights. Various federal agencies were unavailable to the public or operating with skeleton crews.

Is this any way to run a constitutional republic? The United States is supposed to uphold the finest principles of democratic values, demonstrating to the world the value of our representative government and the merits of a free society.

Instead, this latest example feeds the idea that ours is a declining power, one to be ridiculed, not emulated. We become laughingstocks with every week, every day, every minute, every second that our government does not function.

So, after 35 days of drama, ineptitude, embarrassment and folly, we now face another deadline in February. And while posturing is occurring on both sides,…