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Regular Order (Editorial)

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The federal government is still in dysfunction mode as of this writing, and President Trump’s posturing suggests that he won’t be terribly concerned if that’s still the case by the time you are reading this.

But government shutdowns — even partial ones, and even if taxpayers eventually pay federal employees for work they were not allowed to perform — are ultimately failures of the political process. The latest failure is particularly disappointing because of the putative reason: a relatively small amount of funding for a “big, beautiful” border wall that was never contemplated until Candidate Trump promised rally crowds that Mexico would pay for it.

Border security is a real issue, as is immigration — legal and otherwise. They are not new issues, nor have they escalated to crisis level. But, the aforementioned rally crowds notwithstanding, there is not widespread agreement on the need for a massive border wall, and even the famously resolute Trump has been wishy-washy about exactly what kind of wall he has in mind. Can a price tag even be put on an idea so unformed?

The U.S. House of Representatives, as quickly as it possibly could after being sworn in for the 116th Congress, approved essentially the same continuing resolution to keep the government operating that the 115th Senate had approved 100-0 in December. But that was when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — who voted for the resolution himself — believed that it was acceptable to the president. As of last Thursday, McConnell was unwilling to risk a vote by the 116th — apparently because it might pass again, forcing the president to either sign or veto, exactly as the Constitution contemplates.

It’s at times like these that we most miss John McCain and his harping about “regular order.” Border security should be part of long-overdue, comprehensive legislation on immigration. It should not cripple our government.

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