Government Shutdown

September 18, 1998
Remember the government shutdown three years ago? Congressional leaders, in trying to force President Clinton's hand, actually ended up wounding themselves. This time it appears that a wounded president may veto seven appropriations bills, risking another government shutdown.

Now that Congress is back in session, lawmakers are facing 13 appropriations bills that make up the budget. To avoid a shutdown, they must pass (and the president must sign) the bills before the fiscal year begins October 1.

The reason President Clinton wants to veto seven bills is due to a disagreement with Republicans. He wants to spend more. They want to spend less. The greatest difference is over education funding, which has now surpassed $30 billion. Quite a jump from 1979 when the Department of Education was first created.

The president also wants to spend more money on the International Monetary Fund, which might lead to an eighth bill that would be vetoed. Although the continuing economic problems in Russia are a powerful argument against increased IMF funding, many congressmen will probably feel compelled to vote with the president on this issue.

I say that Congress should stick with their guns even if the president vetoes the bills. Congress not only has a principled argument on its side, it has the political upper hand given the president's weakened position.

Even if Congress were to give the president everything he wants, he might still veto certain bills if only to divert attention from his scandals. If the president vetoes seven bills and shuts down the government, the front page story probably won't be the president's scandals.

Congress needs to do the right thing and consider the taxpayers. If President Clinton vetoes these bills, so be it.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International