Government Shutdown: The Blame Game and Diminishing Returns

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It’s that time of year again: Summer has officially ended, days are getting shorter, and the United States Congress is marching toward yet another budget debate in which the risk of a government shut down is very real. Congress has until the end of the month to reach a funding agreement — the government is expected to have an annual operating budget of approximately $986 billion this coming fiscal year — or else all non-essential government operations will grind to a halt.

Passing a budget in any given fiscal year is never straightforward. Given the chance, one side or the other will push for some sort of compromise. The GOP, for example, could take this opportunity to push for spending cuts or to get their way with tax reform. But this year the ante has been upped. Republican policymakers in the House of Representatives have passed a short-term funding measure (that would finance operations through December) that explicitly defunds the Affordable Care Act.

This decision has backed each party into separate corners. The Senate, controlled by the Democratic party, is unlikely to pass a budget that defunds Obamacare, and is expected to remove the defunding provision when they return the legislation to the House. Regardless, the White House has made it clear that President Barack Obama will veto any budget measure that defunds the healthcare law.