Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

United States: Congress avoids federal paralysis again.

By b0oua Mar 1, 2024

The American Congress adopted on Thursday February 29 a text which makes it possible to postpone a budgetary paralysis of the federal state, the famous “shutdown”. But this respite will, once again, only be short-lived.

A budgetary paralysis of the federal state, the famous “shutdown” , is once again postponed: the American Congress adopted a text on Thursday February 29 despite the opposition of Trumpist elected officials, but this respite will, once again, only be of short duration.

The American House of Representatives, then the Senate in the evening, adopted a text on Thursday which postpones this threat for a week, in the middle of the electoral campaign, after an agreement reached the day before between elected Democrats and Republicans.

He plans to extend the federal state budget by one week, until March 8, and must thus avoid this paralysis which would have led to a temporary closure of many administrations and public services. The text must still be promulgated by President Joe Biden, a formality.

It was his time in the House of Representatives that posed a problem. Elected officials from the most right-wing fringe of Republicans, close to Donald Trump, have so far prevented the adoption of the 2024 federal state budget, the fiscal year of which began on October 1.

The world’s largest economy therefore now operates through a series of mini-laws, each time adopted at the last minute, to extend the budget by a few days, weeks or months.

As soon as one of these mini-budgets is about to expire, as was to be the case for one of them on Friday, the risk arises that the federal administration will be partially shut down, what the Americans call the “shutdown” . The list of potential consequences is long: unpaid air traffic controllers, shut down administrations, frozen food aid, unmaintained national parks, etc.

This is the fourth time since October that the deadline has been postponed. These deep disagreements, which force Congress to operate in the short term, illustrate the dysfunctions within the American institutional apparatus. It was these partisan quarrels in the House of Representatives that even led to the dismissal of a Republican leader in the fall.

President Joe Biden received Republican and Democratic leaders from both houses of Congress at the White House on Tuesday, to try to avoid this paralysis of the federal state, but also to convince the Republicans to adopt another major measure that is still blocked. : additional aid of 60 billion dollars (around 55 billion euros) for Ukraine.

Because, in the middle of the electoral campaign for the presidential election in November, Donald Trump, who dreams of returning to the White House and is the ultra-favorite to be the Republican candidate, is first calling for a toughening of the legislation on immigration.

The debate on this burning theme for the campaign also moved on Thursday to the field, to Texas, to the border with Mexico, where the former president and the current one went on the same day. The two men seem well on their way to facing each other again during the presidential election in November.

Donald Trump accuses Joe Biden of having transformed the southern border of the United States into a sieve. He assures that the Democratic leader’s asylum policy has caused an unprecedented migration crisis.

The US government has shutdown ten times over the past 40-plus years. Meanwhile, in other countries, governments keep functioning, even in the midst of wars and constitutional crises. So why does this uniquely American phenomenon keep happening?

For most of the world, a government shutdown is very bad news – the result of revolution, invasion or disaster. That leaders of one of the most powerful nations on Earth willingly provoked a crisis that suspends public services and decreases economic growth is surprising to many.

In a last-minute deal in September, Congress managed to avoid a shutdown by passing a stop-gap spending bill that kept the government running for another 45 days. But that means the politicians have to go back to the bargaining table, and the country could be facing another shutdown yet again, once the funding runs out.

America’s federal system of government allows different branches of government to be controlled by different parties. It was a structure devised by the nation’s founders to encourage compromise and deliberation, but lately it has had the opposite effect.

That’s because in 1980, the Attorney General under President Jimmy Carter‘s administration issued a narrow interpretation of the 1884 Anti-Deficiency Act. The 19th Century spending law banned the government from entering into contracts without congressional approval; for almost a century, if there was a gap in budgets, the government had allowed necessary spending to continue. But after 1980, the government took a much stricter view: no budget, no spending.

That interpretation has set the US apart from other non-parliamentary democracies, such as Brazil, where a strong executive branch has the ability to keep the lights on during a budget impasse.

The first US shutdown occurred shortly after in 1981, when President Ronald Reagan vetoed a funding bill, and lasted for a few days. Since then, there’s been at least ten others that led to a stop in services, lasting anywhere from half-a-day to over a month. The last one, from 21 December 2018 to 25 January 2019, was the longest on record.



By b0oua

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