BREAKING NEWS : Allen County coroner identifies Corydon Court shooting victim Full Story

Washington is broken

When Washington is this broken, it's always the most vulnerable who get hurt.Political careers may be made and...

Posted: Jan 19, 2018 1:43 PM
Updated: Jan 19, 2018 1:43 PM

When Washington is this broken, it's always the most vulnerable who get hurt.

Political careers may be made and lost Friday as President Donald Trump and Republicans and Democrats in Congress trade blame while the government races toward a midnight shutdown deadline.

But while Washington fixates over the partisan stakes of the funding drama, the real victims of the latest lurch into government dysfunction are powerless to influence their fates, and can only look on in rising panic and fear.

It's not that Washington politicians don't understand the human consequences of their delay and inability to compromise. They just don't know how to get it done in an era of deep polarization and when goodwill and bipartisan solutions between the parties have long since disappeared.

House votes to avert government shutdown, path in Senate unclear

Dramatic confrontations like this one over a shutdown have proven to be the only way that a polarized Congress in a deeply divided country lacking a dominant political consensus can actually do its work, at moments when the cost of inaction becomes greater than the price lawmakers will pay for taking difficult votes.

This time around, it's at least 700,000 people brought to the US illegally as children and children who get their health care through a long running insurance program who've been dragged into the partisan crossfire as Congress fails to fulfill its basic function, providing continuous governance.

They are being used as bargaining chips as Republican leaders in Congress seek to fund the government, possibly yet again on a short term extension, and Democrats seek to use a moment of high political leverage.

DACA recipients are struggling through just their latest agonizing false dawn as they wait for Congress to act to make their status in the US permanent -- a step that has overwhelming public support.

Juan Escalante, a DACA beneficiary who works for the America's Voice immigration reform advocacy group, says the emotional trauma of watching Washington's twists and turns is becoming almost too much to bear.

"What I hear time and time again from people who are going through this legislative process for the first time, people in their early 20s ... is that their level of anxiety and fear is almost intolerable," he said. "I have had text messages from people who call me and text me from work, who are having panic attacks or are crying in their bathroom stall because the headlines and the back and forth is so prevalent."

Unless Congress acts by March, DACA recipients will begin to lose protections from deportation under the program, and their lives and livelihoods will be thrown into turmoil.

The agony of the DACA community is mirrored by those supported by the Children's Health Insurance Program, which is popular with lawmakers from both sides and has been consistently funded for two decades. But money is running out and the bickering Congress can't agree how to fix it.

Nothing preoccupies a parent as much as a child who is ill. But without a quick fix from Congress, many of the 9 million kids who get government help through the plan could lose their health care.

Dr Matthew Davis, a physician who's the head of academic general pediatrics at Northwestern University, said CHIP's vital role was in doubt.

"What I have noticed with CHIP is that it puts parents' and grandparents' minds' at ease and it lets us focus on the most important work -- which is to let every child be healthy," Davis said.

"Parents who have kids with special or complete health needs are especially concerned that CHIP -- that has already been allowed to expire -- will never come back," Davis said.

While those affected by DACA and CHIP are the most visible victims of a potential government shutdown, they are not alone.

Hundreds of thousands of government employees could be furloughed, veterans could see government payments delayed and if the shutdown lingers military personnel could go unpaid until there is a resolution.

How Washington works -- or doesn't

Funding for CHIP would sail through Congress as a stand-alone bill given its bipartisan support. But a plan to support the program for a further six years was added to a House bill to fund the government for four weeks in a bid to win Democratic support.

But the bill's prospects are uncertain in the Senate, where at least 10 Democratic votes will be needed to pass the funding bill and where liberal lawmakers are under pressure to hold out for a DACA fix to be included.

That move could torpedo the effort, since Trump and conservative Republicans insist they have yet to see sufficient funding for his border wall in the measure.

House Speaker Paul Ryan stressed the human toll of the CHIP funding crunch as he tried to get Democrats to sign on to his funding bill.

"The states are going to be shutting down CHIP in days. Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oregon, Virginia, Washington state," Ryan said.

"These are states that are running out of CHIP money if we don't get this thing passed, and I can't imagine why somebody would want to vote against doing that."

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was scathing about the insertion of CHIP in the government funding bill, saying the measure did not include money for community health centers needed to support the program.

"This is like giving you a bowl of doggie-doo, put a cherry on top and call it a chocolate sundae. This is nothing," she told reporters.

'This has turned into an s-show'

The latest logjam is far from the first time that Washington's dysfunction has put the welfare of millions at risk.

Short term funding bills, fiscal cliffs, government shutdowns and threatened shutdowns and spending sequesters were also a feature of the Obama era, when power was often shared in Washington and compromise was scarce.

Democrats argue that the current mess is a failure by the GOP, given its monopoly on power in the White House and on Capitol Hill. After all, Trump made fixing Washington a key rationale of his outsider run for office.

"I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves. Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it," the President said in his Republican National Convention speech in 2016.

Yet it seems unlikely that any future Democratic president, after winning the White House vowing to fix Washington, will be any more successful.

For now, with no clear path obvious for a shutdown to be averted, it looks likely that DACA and CHIP beneficiaries will face days, or weeks, of more anxiety.

"This has turned into an s-show and we need to get back to being a great country," Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said Wednesday.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 48524

Reported Deaths: 2698
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11682684
Lake5180242
Elkhart330146
Allen2798132
St. Joseph196466
Cass16389
Hamilton1563101
Hendricks1410100
Johnson1288118
Porter73237
Tippecanoe7268
Madison65964
Clark65544
Bartholomew58644
LaPorte58026
Howard57757
Kosciusko5494
Vanderburgh5486
Marshall4904
Noble48228
Jackson4723
LaGrange4709
Hancock45035
Boone44543
Delaware44550
Shelby42625
Floyd38144
Morgan32931
Monroe30028
Grant29526
Montgomery29420
Clinton2892
Henry27415
Dubois2736
White26510
Decatur25032
Lawrence24625
Dearborn23823
Vigo2358
Harrison21822
Warrick21829
Unassigned193193
Greene18932
Miami1832
Jennings17611
Putnam1698
DeKalb1624
Scott1627
Daviess14317
Wayne1406
Orange13623
Perry1299
Steuben1292
Franklin1248
Jasper1212
Ripley1177
Wabash1122
Carroll1102
Fayette997
Newton9810
Starke933
Whitley925
Gibson812
Huntington812
Randolph794
Wells731
Fulton721
Jefferson722
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox640
Clay604
Rush583
Adams501
Owen491
Benton480
Sullivan451
Posey420
Brown391
Spencer381
Blackford372
Crawford320
Fountain322
Tipton321
Switzerland270
Parke230
Martin220
Ohio170
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike110

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 57956

Reported Deaths: 2927
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin10410429
Cuyahoga7883373
Hamilton6019198
Lucas2752302
Marion273438
Pickaway219741
Summit2143206
Montgomery203427
Mahoning1832232
Butler159944
Columbiana130760
Stark1123112
Lorain103567
Trumbull96770
Warren86021
Clark7669
Delaware58215
Fairfield57216
Tuscarawas56710
Belmont54922
Medina52332
Lake50018
Licking49312
Miami46631
Portage44258
Ashtabula43544
Wood42851
Clermont4146
Geauga40742
Wayne36351
Richland3455
Allen32141
Mercer2829
Greene2589
Darke25125
Erie24422
Holmes2363
Huron2202
Madison1978
Ottawa14923
Sandusky13614
Crawford1355
Washington13520
Putnam12815
Ross1273
Hardin12312
Morrow1161
Coshocton1112
Auglaize1074
Monroe8917
Jefferson882
Union861
Muskingum831
Hancock791
Hocking788
Guernsey743
Preble731
Lawrence710
Williams712
Clinton680
Shelby684
Logan621
Fulton610
Ashland591
Athens591
Carroll593
Wyandot596
Brown571
Defiance513
Knox511
Fayette460
Highland451
Scioto410
Champaign401
Perry351
Van Wert350
Seneca342
Henry300
Paulding250
Adams241
Jackson230
Pike230
Vinton222
Gallia181
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Noble110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 96°
Angola
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 91°
Huntington
Few Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 97°
Decatur
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 89°
Van Wert
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 89°
Few Storms Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events