Remember when the most apocalyptic issue in Washington was a budget impasse?
With the House of Representatives holding hearings aimed at impeaching the president of the United States, a simple government shutdown over funding for a border wall might seem, well, pretty tame.
But it’s not. Nothing less than the economy of the United States and the faith of the American people in the federal government’s ability to operate rationally could be at stake.
Last week, President Trump signed a stop-gap funding measure that will keep the federal government running until Dec. 20 — about the same time the House could be voting on an impeachment resolution.
There’s a pretty fiasco to put on your calendar: an impeachment showdown and government shutdown just in time for Christmas.
While the House Intelligence Committee has been publicly dissecting the president’s phone calls and grilling his ambassadors, congressional negotiators were trying to work out a full-year funding deal with the White House, but they failed.
Democrats don’t want to give way on any more funding for Trump’s wall along the southern border. The president wasn’t willing to sign off on billions in additional spending that the smart money said could grease the skids to a deal. Compromise remains a dirty word to both sides.
So, the impeachment process pushes forward and the nation teeters on the edge of another partial government shutdown, the third of the Trump administration.
What do you expect? It’s Washington, right?
Actually, it’s not unreasonable to expect a lot more.
At the minimum, the American people expected a fully vetted, authorized and appropriated budget every year — one that sets out the nation’s priorities and plans for the future. To be really optimistic, we also expect the revenues and expenditures in that budget to balance one another unless there is some true national emergency like a depression or a world war.
Such expectations were disappointed a long time ago, but is it too much to expect Washington just to keep the lights on and the parks open on a consistent basis?