Trump’s Stop Gap Spending Bill
Congress passing and the President signing another stopgap spending bill keeping the government open another four weeks until December 20 is just kicking the can down the road. Another federal government shut down may take place in December when the most recent temporary budget extension is set to expire. This reminds me of “Stuck In The Middle With You” by the band Stealers Wheel. The words “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you” from the song. It perfectly sums up the chaos and gridlock in Washington.
If federal civil servants face periodic furloughs, so too should White House employees, members of Congress and their staff. Federal employees work just as hard as their counterparts in the private sector. Many in the military, CIA, FBI, United States Marshals, ICE, Border Security and Coast Guard put their lives on the line every day protecting our nation. They remain on the payroll but can suffer from a delay in their pay.
The government shut down and furlough of non essential federal government employees is a waste of taxpayers dollars. Even when furloughs take place, Congress has ended up retroactively paying federal employees for the days they could not report for duty.
Both the President and Congress need to work together, if we are ever going to put our fiscal house in order and end future threats of both sequestering and furloughs. We need to return to the time when Congress held budget hearings for each department during the summer. A real balanced budget, agency by agency, was adopted during an open process. Members of Congress, federal employees, the public, watchdog groups and media were afforded sufficient time to understand the full contents prior to adoption. Full federal budgets were adopted on time prior to the start of any new Federal Fiscal year on October 1. This was a time many years ago when there were no furloughs.
The White House and Congress should be held accountable for their actions, or in this case inactions, just as employees are at personnel evaluations. Voters can conduct their own personnel evaluations of both Congress and the President on Election Day in 2020. Both the President, members of Congress and their respective employees should be docked one full day’s pay for each day a full Federal Fiscal Year 2020 budget is not adopted on time. They need to perform this most basic requirement of their jobs, which is passing a budget on time, just like federal civil servants do on a daily basis.
Why not end bipartisan gridlock?. Instead of another in a series of stop gap continuing resolutions to keep the government open, pass a clean spending bill with no attached amendments for the balance of Fiscal Year 2020 ending on September 30th using Fiscal Year 2019 numbers.
BDS Thrives, Students Cry at Columbia
We walked in knowing, deep down, that defeat was most likely inevitable. We walked in understanding, deep down, that the council was not on our side. We walk in recognizing, deep down, that the 10,000 Jewish students on our campus, the pro-Israel voices on our campus, our strong, brave, bold voices would be muted with a simple “yes.” We walked in together, ready to fight BDS.
Hours before the vote, members of Students Supporting Israel, Aryeh, J Street, and Hillel put all their cards on the table, ready and able to unite against the possibility of Columbia College Student Council sending this hateful, antisemitic referendum to students, regardless of the differentiated views.
We had pages and pages of written, evidential fact on the detriment on BDS to various communities, countries, nations. We formulated paragraphs and paragraphs of arguments and counter arguments and counters to counters until it was time to enter that room with everything we have and everything we live for.
As soon as the other groups made their statements, their aggressive, misinformed, hurtful statements, I knew the night would end in tears. And that it did. A council member, who had no opinion on the matter, had a legitimate panic attack from the extremity of the situation. Other council members, who were in support of BDS, blatantly shamed her for having PTSD, saying that if she couldn’t deal with it, “she shouldn’t be here.” In fact, it is important to note, that pro-BDS students made sure to have people run for council who would only be there to pass this one vote. Does this represent our student body? Is the council there just to insert people who feel one way or another about certain issues? Is this at all democratic? I don’t think so. We don’t think so.
While we were in the room, students filled the overflow room, watching live. On the live stream chat, someone posted a meme about the situation, an antisemitic, anti-Israel, hateful meme. Freshman began to cry, feeling helpless, hopeless, uncertain on how to deal with such malice that they were surely not expecting. We mentioned this to the council, which they then claimed as an “anecdote” that was deemed, somehow, irrelevant.
After hearing the word “yes,” after hearing it passed, my heart fell to the floor. As someone who never cries, I didn’t think I would. Of course, I did, along with many others who felt the same way I was feeling, in that very one moment. We left the room, as SJP and JVP members screamed, boasted, roared in great excitement, at the top of their lungs “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Holding my camera up in dismay, with tears trapped in my eyes, with my hands shaking uncontrollably, I couldn’t believe my ears, my eyes, the insensitivity happening right in front of me, in front of us.
I ask, I plead, I beg the students on this liberal-minded, open-minded, beautiful campus to vote no to antisemitism, to vote no to hatred, to vote no to this referendum that will only divide, that will only bring detriment, that will only harm.
When you hear that we are the anti-BDS side, and they are the pro-BDS side, that does not mean that we are the anti. In fact, we are the pro. We are the pro-Israel, pro-Jewish, pro-peace side that doesn’t want “sides.” We want dialogue. We want inclusion. We want together. Do you?
(Romy Ronen is a sophomore at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is a board member of Students Supporting Israel at Columbia University, works with Jewish National Fund, Israeli American Council, etc.)