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A lot of Americans would probably be very surprised to find out that the U.S. federal government was on the verge of shutting down for the second time during the last four years this past weekend, coming within an hour of doing so.
Instead, the near-“crisis”, which arose because the U.S. Congress needed to pass a spending bill to keep the federal government’s operations going, was barely reported upon by the media.
2013’s shut down had come about as the result of the Republican party’s principled opposition to the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which is more popularly known as “Obamacare”. Using the leverage of that year’s spending bills, Republican party members of the U.S. Senate attempted to delay the impending implementation of the law that was unethically crammed through the U.S. Congress three years earlier without the support of a single Republican party member of Congress.
By contrast, in December 2016, the almost-shut down of the U.S. government would have come entirely at the hands of the members of the Democratic party in the U.S. Senate. According to the limited reporting of the New York Times, there doesn’t appear to have been much of the way of either principles or positive results involved:
WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats on Friday relented in their flirtation with a government shutdown over a dispute about health care benefits for coal miners, and with less than an hour before the midnight deadline, the Senate approved a measure to fund the government through April.
The party’s willingness to take the nation to the brink of a government shutdown signaled its intention, just weeks after its election drubbing in Rust Belt states, to quickly leverage the sorts of issues that propelled Donald J. Trump to victory.
The House on Thursday passed a short-term spending bill that would keep the government open through late April and extend through that month health care benefits for retired miners who were set to lose them at the end of the year. But Democrats wanted those benefits to last for a year, and slowed down voting on the measure with the threat of rejecting the bill.
“We never intended to shut down the government,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, the incoming minority leader, said on the Senate floor Friday evening. He added, “I think we’ve made our point.”
Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, who led the charge on behalf of the miners, said that at the very least, he and his colleagues had drawn attention to “what coal miners have done for this country.”
It was unclear what Mr. Manchin and other Democrats had gained from the process. There was no legislative compromise, nor any promise of more money for miners in the future.
For its part, the lame duck Obama administration blamed the Republican party for the pending federal government shutdown, despite the reality of the Democratic party’s senate leadership’s role in creating the near-crisis for the apparent purpose of its needs for political posturing.