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Politico, January 25, 2018:
Lawmakers sowed the seeds for this years ago — as Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi know all too well.
The Republican-led government shutdown in 2013 was billed as a fight over Obamacare. The latest disruption was triggered by Democrats’ demands on immigration.
But lost in the headlines is the fact that the biggest common driver in both crises was Washington’s inability to come to grips with what it promised in the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Republicans were alarmed then by the growing federal debt. And after a long hot summer of wrangling, Congress wrote into law discretionary spending caps that promised to save billions while preserving some rough parity between defense and domestic priorities in the annual appropriations bills which keep the government operating.
In the years since, when that spirit is respected, Congress muddles by without breaking down. But when the BCA is ignored, chaos follows. And it’s no accident that this latest shutdown, like 2013 before it, came on the heels of budget plans that sought to dramatically alter the contours of the law.