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EDITORIAL: That Was Then, This Is Now

Updated: Feb 16, 2019

In August 2013, Congress needed to either pass a budget or pass a Continuing Resolution (to keep paying for government operations at the current level until a new budget could be passed). The Democrats (who controlled the Senate) wanted to pass a new budget, while the Republicans (who controlled the House) wouldn't do that unless the Democrats agreed to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act -- a big piece of health care legislation the Democrats had just recently passed into law. The Democrats obviously did not want to repeal the law they had just worked so hard to pass, so there was an impasse. That's when 80 House Republicans (including our own Congressman Doug Lamborn) wrote a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, urging him to not give in, "we should continue our efforts to repeal ObamaCare in its entirety this year, next year, and until we are successful," and doing so by "affirmatively de-fund[ing] the implementation and enforcement of ObamaCare in any relevant appropriations bill brought to the House floor in the 113th Congress, including any continuing appropriations bill."

Well, that's exactly what Speaker Boehner did: every bill he brought to the Floor de-funded the ACA, and the Senate would rewrite the bill to re-fund the ACA, and the House would re-de-fund the ACA, and the Senate would re-re-fund it, and this game went back and forth until the October 1 budget deadline passed and, because there was no new budget or approved Continuting Resolution, the government shut down. For 16 days, the U.S. Government was shut down. Doug Lamborn signed the letter which urged the Speaker to never back down, which led to the Government Shutdown in 2013. Then this year, we found ourselves in a very similar situation: the U.S. Government needed a budget to be passed or a Continuing Resolution. Even though Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the White House, they don't control enough votes in the Senate to pass a bill on their own (they need Democrats to vote with them to pass budgets and C.R.'s). So the Democrats used their minority power to ask for two things: they would support a budget or C.R. if it included re-funding the Children's Health Insurance Program (which Republicans let expire and de-fund last year) and immigration reform measures for the children of undocumented immigrants. The Republcians (after much grumbling and tough negotiations) finally relented and agreed to fix the problems they created with CHIP by re-funding it for six years. But they would not add in the DACA protections for immigrant children. The Democrats warned the Republicans: if you want our votes (and you do need our votes) then you've got to do these two things: CHIP and DACA. The Republicans (after much grumbling and tough negotiations) could not agree amongst themselves about how to handle DACA immigration reforms (because they rejected all the options the Democrats presented), blamed the Democrats for demanding too much, and then failed to pass either a budget or a C.R. So the Government shut down. And our Congressman Doug Lamborn put out a statement blaming the Democrats for causing this shutdown.

What amuses me most about his statement is how it tries to blame the Democrats for delaying funding to CHIP -- but that funding was only included in the bills because the Democrats demanded it. The Republicans in Congress let the original program expire and failed to re-fund it before now. But now that's the Democrats' fault, says Congressman Lamborn. And the greater irony here is that Congressman Lamborn is upset the CHIP funding is being held up and kids won't have health insurance until this government shutdown is resolved, but in 2013 Lamborn demanded the government be shut down unless it stripped health care away from so many Americans, including children. Congressman Doug Lamborn didn't want Americans to have access to government funded health care in 2013, but now in 2018 is upset children don't have access government funded health care! But hey: that was then and this is now.

Ryan Macoubrie is the Chair of the El Paso County Young Democrats

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