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Longest Shutdown Ever: This Is Bad Governance

This shutdown is a brazen power grab by the president, and so far, too many members of Congress have been willing to cede this power

The Department of Housing and Urban Develoment (HUD) webstie explains the agency is closed during the shutdown. (Photo: HUD/screenshot)

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published on Sat. Jan. 12, 2018 by National Priorities Project, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies.

It’s day 22, and this government shutdown is officially the longest in American history. 

Congress has the power to make things right, but it would take a bipartisan stand against the president. 

This is bad governance. Our constitution makes clear that Congress, not the president, has the “power of the purse.” This shutdown is a brazen power grab by the president, and so far, too many members of Congress have been willing to cede this power to the president when they could end it today with enough votes. So, the shutdown continues. 

Most Americans favor immigration, and oppose a wall, as I wrote this week in Fortune. According to a poll from business insider, most Americans would rather see our shared resources put toward infrastructure, healthcare, or education than a wall at the border. 

Where will it end? In recent days reports have focused on the possibility of the president declaring a national emergency. According to news reports, he would use the declaration to repurpose funding from either militaryfunds or disaster fundsfor Puerto Rico, Texas and California. If he takes from the military, he’s admitting he thinks the military doesn’t need the funds. If he takes from disaster funds, he’s just plain heartless.

This is unconscionable, and it’s dangerous for our democracy. The president’s powers have been limited from the outset of our democracy to guard against authoritarianism, and a declaration of national emergency will almost certainly be met by lawsuits and congressional investigation.

This is no way to run a budget, and no way to run a government. Congress has the power to make things right, but it would take a bipartisan stand against the president. 

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Lindsay Koshgarian

Lindsay Koshgarian is Research Director at the National Priorities Project. 

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