As residents in the Cayuga County area contemplate the ramifications of the federal government's partial shutdown that began this weekend, they need to evaluate the performance of their representatives in Congress.
What did U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. John Katko support in those final few days before the deadline? The senators supported a unanimous stopgap spending bill, believing they had President Trump's backing, and cleared the way for the House of Representatives to do the same.
But then far right-wing pundits and the extreme conservatives of the Republican House majority began hollering that the bipartisan Senate bill would be a failure because it didn't include $5 billion for a southern border wall, even though the majority of the nation doesn't support such a project and the president had promised repeatedly in the past that Mexico would pay for it, not the American taxpayers.
But with the barrage of criticism from his base, Trump reversed course and told the House leadership he would veto the stopgap bill first passed by the Senate if the House also approved it. Speaker Paul Ryan immediately caved and put the border wall money into the House bill, a party-line vote got it passed and the shutdown became inevitable.
WASHINGTON — A partial federal shutdown took hold early today after Democrats refused to meet President Donald Trump's demands for $5 billion to start erecting his cherished Mexican border wall, a chaotic postscript for Republicans in the waning days of their two-year reign controlling government.
Katko voted for the bill, although he likely would have supported the stopgap measure, as well. Here's how he summed the situation after the deadline passed:
"I am incredibly disappointed that Democrats and Republicans have failed to work together to avoid a government shutdown. ... While we can have disagreements as policymakers, there are are no winners when Congress fails to keep the government open. We must come together to find a solution. I remain committed to working across party lines to get this done."
While we understand Katko's sentiment, the first sentence is simply inaccurate. Democrats and Republicans did work together. A deal to avoid a shutdown was reached, and a bipartisan vote in the Senate took place.
What's more important, though, is Katko's final sentence. If he's committed to working across party lines, then he needs to get to work with his like-minded Republican colleagues and force House leaders to get the Senate's spending bill to a vote in the House. That will certainly pass with bipartisan support, and it will force Trump to do more than merely threaten a veto. He would have to go through with it and live with the political consequences.
But even if the president were to veto such a measure, there would still be a way to get the government back to work. Congress can override the veto.
That's what should happen. We urge our congressman to do all in his power to make it happen.
The Citizen Editorial Board includes publisher Rob Forcey, managing editor Mike Dowd and executive editor Jeremy Boyer.