CNN host Jake Tapper advocated the Republican piecemeal budgeting approach by claiming there is "no principled reason" for Democrats to oppose the strategy. But piecemeal funding keeps the government from fully functioning and ignores those who lack the clout to get their programs funded in that manner.
After failing to avert a government shutdown by passing a budget, House Republicans adopted a "piecemeal" approach, attempting to pass budgetary items individually. During an October 7 CNN special on the government shutdown, host Jake Tapper argued that "there is no principled reason I can see" for Democrats to oppose the GOP's approach, claiming it's "just that Democrats don't like the politics." Earlier in the show, Tapper asked Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) to explain Democrats' votes to provide funding for military salaries and back pay for furloughed workers.* Tapper later claimed it's "not a principle to say, 'Well, we want to do it all at once'":
But the GOP's piecemeal budgeting efforts have faced widespread criticism. Think Progress found that "The government has not typically been funded by temporary extensions, or continuing resolutions (CRs), but through full budgets." The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America also criticized the piecemeal method. Tom Tarantino, Chief policy officer for IAVA, explained that "The only way to solve this problem is to restart the government" because of the shutdown's disproportionate effects for veteran employment. The Center for Science In The Public Interest (CSPI) opposed the House bill H.J. Res 77 which would fund parts of the government but not others, explaining that "food safety requires the concerted effort of 13 different agencies" so "Opening FDA alone would not be enough to protect the public from potential risks." CSPI continued:
FDA works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to identify and locate the source of a foodborne illness outbreak.
Besides the FDA, CDC, and USDA, the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration examines seafood for safety and quality, the Environmental Protection Agency regulates the use of pesticides, and the Department of Homeland Security coordinates all those agencies' security activities.
The Los Angeles Times' Michael Hiltzik noted that piecemeal funding is a "trap," citing as an example a congressional move earlier this year to exempt air traffic controllers from being furloughed under the sequester:
The sequester's impact on air passengers, who tend to be wealthier and politically better-franchised than the average voter (especially frequent flyers), was a great pressure point. Removing it allowed Congress and the country to forget about the sequester's impact on Head Start kids, housing aid recipients, and the unemployed, whose voices don't get heard much in Washington. Had the FAA cuts been left in place in an all-or-nothing negotiation, you can bet the sequester would have been dead within days.
The same thing would happen here. Relieve the pressure on veterans, guardsmen and guardswomen and their families, tourists, parents of sick children, and D.C. residents, and you can more easily overlook the shutdown's impact on everybody else -- furloughed meat inspectors, fraud enforcers, IRS agents, environmental safety officials, and everyone served by those government workers.
*This video has been updated to include Tapper's entire discussion of the shutdown. An earlier version did not include Tapper's conversation with Van Hollen over Democrats' votes to provide funding for military salaries and back pay for furloughed workers. Some readers argued that Tapper's earlier comments shed light on his statement about whether there is a "principled reason" to oppose a piecemeal approach to funding. They have been included in the interest of letting readers come to their own conclusion.