The deadline to establish new federal spending levels came and went Friday, and, although lawmakers in Washington passed a temporary stopgap measure last week, some think the threat of a shutdown leveraged over passage of a longer-term option is the perfect opportunity to secure more federal aid for Houston.
After an earlier hurricane relief bill offered by Congress, which proposed to split $44 million in aid among affected areas in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, received a designation as “woefully inadequate,” some say a possible government shutdown could be the level lawmakers need to get a better bill passed.
An editorial published in the Houston Chronicle late last week reflects this sentiment, claiming how “sometimes you have to burn a few bridges to get anything done in government.”
Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, who represents Houston, reportedly further echoed the viewpoint around two weeks ago in a funding strategy meeting at the Capitol.
“We do not have the adequate resources, and this is going to be on the verge of a government shutdown if Texas and all of the other victims of these hurricanes do not have a compromise where we can work together,” Lee said at the meeting.
If the group of Texas and Florida representatives Lee is dealing with decides to block funding resolution legislation until a long-term aid bill is passed, political experts agree it could indeed lead to at least a partial government shutdown outside of last week’s last-minute, band-aid solution.
Some in Washington, however, don’t believe threatening a shutdown as a way to up the ante for aid is the best idea:
“This just sheds light on the fact that the appropriations, the spending system is broken when any little group can sort of hold the government hostage,” Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said in an interview with CBS program “Face the Nation.”
The author of the Chronicle piece contends the trouble caused by a shutdown would be worth it to drive home the seriousness of the issue of hurricane relief; in other words, “burning bridges” might be worth the hassle of disagreeing legislatively.
Passage of last week’s continuing resolution may be a sign of a pleasant disposition among Congressmen, some of whom are potentially in the mood to make a deal in order to clear the queue for a tax bill, or clear schedule before adjourning for the Christmas holiday; however, stay tuned to see if Houston will benefit from a fight.