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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Another budget, another tantrum

Another February means another budget debate, and another budget debate means, unsurprisingly, another government shutdown threat — though not a full one this time.

After a midterm election that gave Republicans control of both houses of Congress, it seemed like the fighting and bickering amongst Democrats and Republicans in the legislature was over. Sure, Republicans may still not agree with President Barack Obama, but at least Congress might have actually gotten something done.

It looks like that won’t be happening. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, seems to have decided that political grandstanding is, once again, more important than actually doing his job and governing. The latest casualty? The Department of Homeland Security, which will see its funding run out at the end of the month.

Back in November, Obama decided to use an executive order to make more people eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA prevents some undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from being deported. A second executive order allowed some undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to be given similar rights.

Whether these executive actions are legal or not is another debate. Recently, a U.S. district judge temporarily blocked enforcement of the orders until their constitutionality can be determined. Some argue that Obama overstepped his authority and usurped Congress.

But Boehner’s belief that Obama’s executive order was illegal has led him now to decide to withhold funding for DHS unless the spending bill also blocks Obama’s executive orders. Regardless of whether they agree with Obama’s actions or not, defunding DHS is the equivalent of a toddler throwing a tantrum.

What’s certain is that the bill won’t pass. Senate Democrats have filibustered it, and Obama has said he’ll veto it. According to CNN, even some Republicans disagree with it. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pledged back in November that there wouldn’t be any more government shutdowns. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the proper way to address the orders is “not through shutting down the [DHS].”

McCain is right; shutting down one of the most important agencies of the federal government is not the proper way to protest the constitutionality of Obama’s orders. Boehner claims the House has done its job, but if it’s clear the bill won’t be passed, has the House really done anything of worth?

Immigration is a contentious issue, yes, and the United States’ system desperately needs fixing. But if Boehner wants to fix the immigration system, maybe he should get the House to pass a comprehensive bill that, well, fixes the immigration system. If the Senate or Obama don’t like it, then they can try and work on a bill that compromises.

That’s how government is supposed to work. When two parties disagree on something, they sit down and compromise. If Boehner and the Republicans truly believe that these executive orders are unconstitutional, they should let the courts decide that, which they are already in the process of doing.

Besides, if Boehner thinks that shutting down DHS will curry him favor with his own party, he’s sadly mistaken. A DHS shutdown will not be Obama’s fault or the Democrats’ fault. It will be the Republicans’ fault, and it will be Boehner’s fault.

Perhaps the Speaker should keep in mind that Congress’ job is to legislate. It’s not to shut down government agencies at every turn, a move that is inane and irresponsible, to say the least.

And maybe Boehner should focus less on political grandstanding and more on passing a clean funding bill and doing his own job. If not, perhaps it’s time to defund Boehner instead.


Ashwin Mehra is a physiology major. Follow him on Twitter.

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