WASHINGTON — Democrats and Republicans are feuding over who’s to blame for the government shutdown, and there’s no sense that will end any time soon — which poses major problems for the Washington area.
“It’s [been] a challenge for folks in this region over the weekend, but it becomes a real problem come Monday,” said Virginia democratic Sen. Mark Warner.
In an interview with WTOP, Warner, said the next vote to reopen the government is scheduled for 1 a.m. Monday. Warner, who voted against the continuing resolution that temporarily evades shutdowns, said that the D.C. region is hit hardest.
Warner said that during shutdowns past, the government has ensured that federal employees and military personnel got paid, “but from an operational standpoint, we do not need to go through this process.”
Military personnel are at their posts but won’t be paid until the shutdown ends and other essential personnel are also on the job, but Jason Miller executive editor of WTOP partner Federal News Radio said that it’s tough to gauge the shutdown’s impact during the weekend, when many government operations are usually closed.
“If they can’t get a deal over the weekend and the shutdown continues, we’ll really start seeing people being furloughed Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and so on,” Miller said.
The Trump administration is encouraging agencies to use unexpired funds to keep their doors open, Miller said.
Warner added that to get the government running again, it will take “a group of senators putting the country first.”
But that’s easier said than done.
Democrats and Republicans in Congress spent Saturday putting the blame on each other over the shutdown.
They were set to negotiate mainly on the issue of immigration, but disaster relief and boosting spending on opioid treatment were also at stake.
Republicans insist that Democrats’ staunch stance on protecting immigrants facing deportation and ignoring funding for the military and extending children’s health insurance brought on the shutdown.
“The American people cannot begin to understand why the Senate Democratic leader thinks the entire government should be shut down until he gets his way on illegal immigration,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hours after a last-chance Senate vote failed.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called Republicans, “so incompetent and negligent that they couldn’t get it together to keep the government open.”
What could be done to avoid a another future shutdown?
Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Partnership for Public Service said that, moving forward, the existing budget process should be amended to avoid situations such as this.
He said a biennial budget, as opposed to an annual one, “would give Congress a much bigger shot that they can make the deadline, have a budget in place and would also allow agency to have longer term planning.”
“I think there is a large number of senators in both parties who realize that a government shutdown doesn’t do anybody any good,” Warner said. “Let’s move past the posturing and the blame game and get these negotiations done, get the government reopened.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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