Can’t predict future funding: A holiday shutdown poem

Can’t predict future funding: A holiday shutdown poem

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

As predicted in last month’s View from the Hill, December has been a tumultuous month in Congress.

  • Three members of Congress announced their retirement/resignation in one week for sexual harassment-related scandals.
  • The tax reform bill went to conference, with significant differences between the House and the Senate to iron out.
  • The continuing resolution that kept the government operating from October 1st through December 8th was extended to Dec. 22.
  • The debt ceiling came back from suspension, and the Treasury Department began “extraordinary measures” to hold off default on America’s obligations, possibly until early spring.
  • Democrats declared they wanted a solution for DACA dreamers before the end of the year, while Republicans said there was plenty of time to solve that problem in 2018.

Missing from this list is a budget agreement that would raise the defense caps.

The 2011 Budget Control Act capped discretionary spending at an arbitrary level for 10 years, and Congress has raised the caps in two-year intervals for the past four years.

However, at the time this column was written, no new agreement had been reached. Without an agreement to raise the caps, the appropriations omnibus can’t go forward to fund the government for the remaining three quarters of fiscal year 2018.

Also, sequestration remains the law, which will erase any funding that exceeds the caps, starting on Jan. 15, 2018, unless a new agreement is reached.

By the time you read this, a budget agreement could have been reached, appropriations could have been passed, a government shutdown could have been avoided over the holidays, and the halls could be decked with boughs of holly.

Or, midnight on Dec. 22 could have arrived with no budget agreement, no appropriations omnibus, and either a third continuing resolution extending into late-January, or a government shutdown.

Given the stringent deadlines for submitting columns to AUSA News, your writer can’t know the answer to what happened. Therefore, I offer a holiday shutdown poem for your consideration (see below).

See you on the high ground.


‘Twas three nights before Christmas, and all through the land,

The government shutdown had left DC unmanned.

The players were gathering for this most dangerous game.

POTUS whistled, and tweeted, and called them by name:

“Now Ryan, now McConnell, now Pelosi and Schumer,

Come explain to me why a shutdown is a loser.”

All searched in vain for a deal to make

So America could go on without hitting the brake.

The military stood ready in their multi-domains

Hoping for funding that still never came.

Federal civilians were furloughed from their work

“You are all non-essential!” tweeted some jerk.

And then in the Capitol there arose such a clatter–

The House and the Senate had voted on the matter.

The spigot reopened, funding the nation

But it was just a CR, not an appropriation.

The can was re-kicked to January

While Congress left town in quite a hurry.

So the government re-opened, but we still have some fear,

Because next year will be worse – it’s an election year.