No Room at the Inn

House and Senate Republicans want to send a message to Syrian refugees that there's "no room at the inn" this Christmas season, and they want to attach that message to a bill to keep the government running.

Congress needs to pass a funding bill by December 11th to avoid another government shutdown. With many representatives flying back to their districts over the weekend, it doesn't leave too many legislative days to negotiate, and pass a budget.

It would seem that in these dire times, racing against the clock, and with the season of giving upon us, Republicans and Democrats would put aside partisan differences and focus on passing a budget that would, if not fund the government through the year, at least keep it afloat for more than 2 months.

Of course, that's not what is happening.

In fact, just the opposite is occurring, with politicians attaching policy riders to the bill. That means that within a bill that provides necessary funds for government agencies are provisions about monitoring Syrian and Iraqi refugees, or preventing them from entering the country all together, loosen campaign finance regulations, or even defund Planned Parenthood

Any riders attached, especially regarding the screening process for Syrian refugees, all but ensures a veto from President Obama. President Obama has stated that the United States "can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both" and called the idea of a religious test and only admitting Christian refugees, "not American."

This puts Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) in a tough position, one that Former Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was in not too long ago. Speaker Ryan can carry out the demands of the more extreme wing of his party, and send a bill to the President that includes a rider preventing Syrian refugees from coming into the country. President Obama would likely veto it, to say nothing of whether or not it would pass the Senate, which would plunge the country into another unpopular government shutdown.

Or, Speaker Ryan can pass a clean funding bill, keeping the government running for another couple months, but earning the ire of the right-wing of his party. This was the spot Speaker Boehner was in again and again, until he stepped down earlier this year, courting chaos when few Republicans were willing to put themselves in the same dilemma.

As December 11th draws nearer, one hopes that both parties will put good governance above partisanship, and make sure the government is funded, and thousands of government workers don't miss out on their paychecks right at the beginning of shopping season!

First Published: December 2, 2015