We are about 48 hours away from the federal government shutting down if members of the House and Senate can’t come to some sort of budgetary agreement. We have been here before – passing continuing resolutions at the 11th hour to keep the government’s doors open has become something of a Washington tradition. Right now, lawmakers are haggling over funding President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, increased defense spending, and payments to insurance companies that offer plans on Affordable Care Act marketplaces.
U.S. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth) chairs the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. She says it’s possible Congress will pass a short-term continuing resolution – which extends the pre-existing budget – in order to avert a total shutdown.
“I’d rather have the vote and finish what we’re [doing] in time,” Granger says. “But if there are certain details that really are important enough to keep meeting on … then I’d go along with that.”
She says she’s only in favor of a continuing resolution for a week or two, a longer -term resolution that lasts a whole year is out of the questions.
“It’s terrible because what happens [is] that we’re going to act like this year’s the same as last year,” she says. “If we’re going to do it just the same way – well, if you do that year after year then you’re really not addressing what’s current.”
On top of that, a full year of continuing resolution has devastating effects on the military, Granger says. The government would have to shut down half of the air wings, cancel maintenance on 14 ships and the Air Force would have to stop flying – period.
“We’re in a crisis in defense,” Granger says. “We’ve really lost our readiness and so I will fight that tooth and nail.”
Trump has backed off of his request that the budget include funding for his proposed border wall, and Democrats are refusing to support any funding going toward it at all.
Ted Cruz went further on Wednesday, saying Democrats want the government shutdown in order to appease their voter base. Granger agrees. She says it’s a sense she’s getting across the aisle. Democrats want to embarrass the president and the Republicans, she says. But negotiations are still in flux.
“We’re very close to the same page. We really are,” she says. “We’ve been working on this every single day. We have to pass the bill in the House and in the Senate and put it on the president’s desk.”
One area of contention is people are saying that if the government raises funding on defense, the budget should up funding for every other area as well. Granger disagrees.
“I don’t think all dollars are the same,” she says. “I go to classified briefings almost every day on what is happening in North Korea, what is happening in Central America, what is happening in Syria. It’s some days you could think ‘Well, the world’s on fire.’
“We’re in a really critical situation. So I don’t think it’s the time to make that statement of if you raised defense to keep us safe then you have to raise everything else the same amount.”
Written by Beth Cortez-Neavel.