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Here we go again

New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra, who passed away this week, left us with some words that aptly describe what seems likely to occur on Capitol Hill next week: “It’s deja vu all over again!”

Two years ago, an attempt by conservative Republican lawmakers to derail the Affordable Care Act led to a 16-day federal government shutdown. From Oct. 1 through Oct. 16, most federal employees were furloughed, government operations were disrupted, and payments to defense contractors and other businesses were delayed.

The shutdown—the second-longest on record—reduced the annualized GDP rate in the fourth quarter of 2013 by roughly 0.3 percentage point, the Bureau of Economic Analysis concluded. And it caused a reduction of about 120,000 private-sector jobs in the first two weeks of October that year, the president’s Council of Economic Advisers reported.

The impasse ended when Congress approved legislation to fund the federal government and raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

Now, another Oct. 1 deadline looms and a number of House Republicans have vowed to block even a temporary continuing resolution to keep the federal government going unless the bill meets their demands, including an end to funding for Planned Parenthood.

At midweek, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was trying to rally fellow GOP lawmakers around a plan that would fund the government through mid-December while redirecting more than $200 million of Planned Parenthood funding to other women’s health programs. But even if it passed the Senate, the odds of approval in the House did not look good.

Budget dysfunction in Washington is routine—it has been years since a U.S. president has signed into law a budget passed by Congress using the normal process. This year, of the 12 annual appropriations bills needing congressional approval, lawmakers have passed zero.

But shutting down the government ought to be beyond the pale. Local representatives should be told their constituents want no part of it.

9/25/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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