Government Shuttered, Media Befuddled: Who’s to Blame?

After weeks of delays and debate, the federal government could not come to an agreement on a budget plan for 2018, causing a government shutdown until a budget is passed by both houses of Congress.

A budget passed the House of Representatives early in the day on Jan. 19, the last day the government had to agree to a budget before a midnight shutdown. However, the Senate was unable to bridge the gap between Republicans, who wanted to fund for a border wall included in the budget, and Democrats, who wanted to reinstate DACA as part of the spending bill.

Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he would consider another continuing resolution (CR) until Feb. 8 to keep the government open, Democrats have thus far refused.

And while hope remained that a deal could be struck — especially before the ramifications of a shutdown are felt when federal buildings will be closed during the work week — both sides of the aisle are so far standing firm in their priorities.

Midnight on Jan. 20 marked both the first federal government shutdown since 2013 and the one-year mark of President Donald Trump’s inauguration. The coincidence of these two events occurring in tandem was not lost on the president, though he threw in a jab at Democrats as well:

Trump later suggested the Senate invoke the nuclear option for this vote, a measure it undertook in order to confirm Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch with fewer than a three-fifths majority. He also opposed a CR despite tweeting out support for one prior to the shutdown.

Not only has the government struggled with making amends, but the media has, too.

Despite the shutdown, President Trump spent the weekend vacationing at Mar-a-Lago in Florida to celebrate the anniversary of his presidency, according to Politico.

Another Politico article pointed out that the media isn’t quite sure how to address the issue on the whole, with opposing hashtags like #TrumpShutdown and #SchumerShutdown circulating on Twitter.

“Usually, when the government shuts down, a clear media narrative quickly takes hold: One party is driving the action, and therefore is held responsible,” Politico’s Jason Schwartz wrote. “But like so much else in the Trump era, this current shutdown is unprecedented.

“No single storyline has emerged, causing Democrats and Republicans to scramble for advantage and members of both sides to cry foul over coverage.”

This shutdown is much different than the one in 2013. The Republican Party has control of the White House and both houses of Congress, yet they could not pass a budget on time. Usually, cases of congruence between the executive and legislative branches lead to more productivity; but that has not been the case for quite some time.

In 2013, the Senate and White House were still Democrat-controlled, but Republicans held a majority in the House.

Aside from Twitter, President Trump has been quiet on addressing the shutdown in person. Back when the Obama-led White House oversaw the government shutdown in 2013, Trump voiced his opinion, and put the blame solely on the president’s shoulders.

Notably, he has not spoken about any Republican responsibility or any for himself, deserved or not.

What remains clear is that the shutdown will not end until a compromise is reached. Even though Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.-N.Y., seemed close to an agreement with Trump on Friday, the president evidently reneged, which led to the deal coming off the table.

Until the two sides come back to the table together — with or without Trump’s influence — the budgetless government will cease its operations and the shutdown will persist.

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