Nobody wins during a shutdown
By Representative Dusty Johnson
As Congress buckles down over the next three weeks to deal with the government shutdown and improve border security, I also want to keep our eye on this important fact:
This should never happen again.
We had a partial government shutdown for over a month. I truly believe the individuals who walk the halls of Congress came here for the right reasons, but it is far too easy to get caught up in the politics of D.C. The shutdown is proof of that, and it is painfully obvious to many of us who are new here – and inherited the shutdown as we were sworn in – that the unwillingness to come to the negotiating table is purely political.
Shutdowns are a game of win or lose, but the reality is nobody wins during a shutdown. A reported 4,400 federal employees in South Dakota did not get a paycheck. I’ve talked with a number of the impacted families and their stories are not easy to hear. These individuals are the ones who lose during political standoffs.
Many employees showed up to work during the 35 day impasse and they deserve our appreciation for bearing the weight of a political fight beyond their control. It’s time Congress put into place a structure that will put pressure on the deal makers in our government. Congress should feel the pain that more than eight hundred thousand Americans have over the last month. Our federal workers and the American people deserve better.
I have been talking with colleagues on both sides of the aisle every single day about how to make this situation less likely, if not impossible, in the future. We’re discussing a number of specific legislative solutions, from withholding congressional and political appointee pay during the shutdown to requiring Congress stay in session continuously until a shutdown is resolved. I’m hopeful those “pressure points” would motivate Congress and the Executive Branch to fund our government on time. The American people shouldn’t have to pay for a government that isn’t serving them because of political disagreements.
In South Dakota, we come to the table, negotiate and deliberate until we come up with a solution. This stands in stark contrast to the 30+ days of failed negotiations we saw in Washington. Congress should take note and follow South Dakota’s example.
Here’s the deal – we need improved border security and we need to keep the government open. If Speaker Pelosi wants $0 for a wall and President Trump wants $5.7 billion, let’s negotiate a number somewhere in the middle, end any and all future shutdowns and get back to work.