By Tharuni Jayaraman
It’s happening again. As has been reported endlessly this past week, if Congress does not act soon to pass a funding measure, the Department of Homeland Security will shut down at 12:01 AM on Saturday. Notwithstanding the endless speculation and sound bites, the long-term implications for the country of such a shutdown are unclear. Indeed, given that about 85% of DHS employees would likely be considered “essential,” the term “shutdown” might, in itself, be a bit of a misnomer. However, as former Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs Juliette Kayyem points out, it is clear that the “shutdown” would have some immediate costs. Those DHS employees who are deemed “essential” would have to report to work even though they would not get paid until the “shutdown” ended. Nonetheless, I am not here to write about the implications of a potential DHS shutdown because, quite frankly, there is not that much more to add.
Instead, I believe that the current game of brinkmanship is indicative of a larger problem with consequences that go beyond those of a potential DHS shutdown. The problem is Congress’ inability (or unwillingness) to engage in the budgeting procedures laid out in the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. Congress has not passed a budget resolution since the resolution for FY 2010.