As shutdowns go, this was a piker

Maybe it was President Trump’s almost wickedly gleeful call for a shutdown that goaded Congress to action. Given intra-Mall relations these days, if Trump declared every illegal immigrant should be given citizenship tomorrow, Congress would pass a bill to deport them all by Sunday.

Oh well, this crisis got solved the way most of them do in Washington. Throw money at it. In this case the “it” is everyone.

The new, two-year, topline spending ceiling raised eyebrows even as it raised the coming deficits. But if Members can figure out the program-by-program allocations for all that money, then you’re apparently safe from a shutdown until the end of fiscal 2019.

This bill was what I call a breath mint or candy mint. It was a monumental two year deal between, engineered by — how should I put this — two sourpusses who don’t like each other very much. And it was a continuing resolution to give breathing room to the next task.


Weird as this fiscal year has been, it seems like we’ve got a new legislative normal here in the city on a hill. At least no one marched into the House chamber and caned anyone over the head.

Last night’s 9-hour shutdown was like the tree that falls in the empty forest. Most people were asleep when the Senate pushed its vote into the midnight hour.

If you were on the job, say at an airport or on border patrol, then you’d have been excepted anyhow. Most everyone else was out of work for eight hours but didn’t know it. And they didn’t know what to do when they found out.

I’ve heard reports from several agencies of employees getting conflicting messages about whether to show up Friday morning. At 24-hour operations, like the Social Security Administration, messages got to some people but not others. Other agencies sent out no information. Still, others got serial mixed messages.

The Office of Personnel Management’s web site still had the “lapse in appropriations” banner until Metro-crowding time. No one thought to wake President Trump at 5:30 a.m., after the bill was passed by the House, so he could sign it before rush hour. Someone answered my tweet with a wry comment that, as a teleworker, she was handling her shutdown plans at home.

Two major media outlets asked me what I thought employees should do. It isn’t my decision, but my broadcast advice was to go to work and see what’s going on in reality.

So Washington weathered another storm. And this one resembled those snowfalls that look fierce in the wee hours, but melt when the sun comes up.