Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.
House Republicans just proposed a long-term increase to military spending. The bill will increase Pentagon funding by about $30 billion, breaking existing spending caps as it gives other federal agencies only a short-term extension of current spending levels. This heightens tension with Democrats and makes another government shutdown Thursday more likely. At the same time, Trump has tweeted his rejection the latest of a half-dozen bipartisan proposals to codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program into law. The bill from Sens. John McCain and Chris Coons would give a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and conduct a review of border security without financing $25 billion for The Wall. Republicans claim Schumer is trying to take the border wall off the table.
Last month’s government shutdown ended with promises to find a permanent DACA solution before the March 5 deadline. But as Congress seeks to avoid another shutdown by tomorrow, there is no deal in sight. There is no mention of immigration in this round of funding legislation. Given the gulf between the Senate and the House, a deal does not appear on the horizon.
Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office just warned that lawmakers must again take yet another onerous vote to raise the debt ceiling in about 30 days. The GOP’s recent tax bill, estimated to plunge the government into debt by an additional $1.5 trillion, expedited the call for an earlier debt ceiling increase. A failure to act could rattle the stock and bond markets even more than they already are. Democrats insist on an increase in $40-45 billion in spending hikes for the 11 other sections of discretionary spending.
Democrats have refused to sign on to any defense spending increase absent an agreement to bolster nondefense spending alongside it. Trump also plans to propose a truly massive increase in defense spending in his next budget proposal. The budget agreement has also been stalled by unrelated policy disputes, primarily over DACA. But after forcing a three-day government shutdown last month in an unsuccessful attempt to gain protections for dreamers, Senate Democrats seem to have little appetite to repeat the experience. So, get ready for a game of chicken on government spending. Republican leaders haven’t signaled what they will do if the Senate can’t pass their bill.
It’s complicated, to be sure. Supporters of a permanent DACA fix, supporters of major increases in military spending, supporters of the Border Wall, supporters of protecting domestic programs — none seem to be budging on their demands, and compromises are necessary on all these matters to avert a government shutdown tomorrow. If you have thoughts on any of these issues or on the government shutdown itself, you can contact your Senators and Congressperson and share your concerns today.