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Monday, January 21, 2019

The absurd federal shutdown continues

The finger-pointing is predictably circular and increasingly hyperbolic. I blame Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell more than anyone else at this point. He refuses to permit any re-auth legislation to come to the floor, on the weak excuse that Trump will simply veto any bill that passes without the $5.7 billion "wall" funding.

So what? The Constitution provides for a 2/3rds Legislative Branch vote to override any such veto. He knows that. Those votes are likely there now. Mr. I-Alone-Can-Fix-It is not yet a dictator.

Not yet.


I recently posed the question in a comment over at the Naked Capitalism blog.
Riddle me this.

Say I’m a “Constitutional Conservative” “Strict Constructionist” “Originalist / Textualist.”

I scour the entirety of the Constitution multiple times and find not one word nor phrase setting forth procedure for “shutting down the government.”

Now, Article I, Section 5 authorizes both Houses of Congress to set their own rules of procedure. So, I search out the current pdf copies of those, and, again, not one word or phrase explicating shutdown processes.

The Constitution, consequently, seems to assume 24/7/365.25 operation. Just as — a good bit more explicitly — “the validity of the public debt shall not be questioned” (Amendment XIV, Section 4).
(Tangentially, neither is there any language in the Constitution for dissolving the government. Does that require an Amendment?)

Not that I’ve checked, but I’m fairly confident that such shutdown-procedure language exists in the statutes governing operations of various federal departments and agencies — but those cannot map back to explicit, clear textual Constitutional authority (recall, I’m channeling the late Scalia).

Just strikes me as odd. You have to do a lot of “penumbral, emanating” “construe-ing” to get there, ‘eh?
I even keyword/phrase-searched the entirety of the Federalist Papers. Zip, zilch, nada, nyet. If you're a "Constitutional Conservative," you gotta conclude that the shutdown is illegal.
I got scoffed at for posing the question over at in a comment. The pushback was "the Constitution describes the jobs, but doesn't require that they be performed." Silly me -- that whole "take care that the laws be faithfully executed" thing is just a platitude, an advisory.

"Federal Shutdown Has Meant Steep Health Bills For Some Families"

Just one news item.

"Shutdown’s Pain Cuts Deep for the Homeless and Other Vulnerable Americans"

Here are all the ways the government shutdown is impacting workers’ health and well-being
The medical bills are piling up.

More to come...

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