WASHINGTON DC- The brief government closure revealed deep splits among Democrats and an increasingly poisonous debate over immigration.
IF YOU want to shut down a government as painlessly as possible, do it over a weekend. The federal government closed for business at 12.01am on Saturday, January 20th, and was reopened early on Monday afternoon, after the Senate passed a bill to fund it until February 8th. This was the ninth such shutdown since 1980. Because the party with less power in Washington can usually derail the annual budgeting process, it will not be the last. Familiarity breeds eye-rolling. It is nevertheless remarkable that the world’s pre-eminent power so frequently fails to pay for its government on time. And though the shutdown is over, the disputes that provoked it remain unresolved, and look likely to recur nastily in the coming weeks.
Republicans have an inherent advantage in shutdown politics. The party’s animating philosophy is that government should be smaller and do less. A closed government does less. When Democrats back a shutdown, as happened this time, it undercuts their claim to be the party of governance and regular order. This bias towards reasonableness can enrage the party’s left flank, whose members have a growing respect for Republican intransigence. After the deal was done, chanting demonstrators packed the hallway outside the office of Charles Schumer, the Democrats’ leader in the Senate.