Congress is facing a Friday budget deadline to avoid a federal government shutdown and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s hopeful they’ll succeed in reaching an agreement to avoid such a mess.
Grassley says allowing the funding to run out by midnight Friday would be “a stupid thing to do.” “At one time, in 1995 or ‘6, I thought it was a smart idea to shut down the government and then, you know, I found out it ain’t so smart,” Grassley says. “It costs money to shut down the government. It costs money to open up the government.”
One sticking point is deciding on the amount of money that should be devoted to disaster relief for hurricane-damaged areas of Florida, Texas and elsewhere. “When FEMA runs out of money, we’re going to appropriate more money,” Grassley says. “So, whether we appropriate one dollar by Friday or tens of billions of dollars by Friday, there’s no way we can know today exactly how much money’s going to be needed.”
Senate Democrats complained the $81 billions in disaster funding offered by the House wasn’t enough to help Puerto Rico, where the power is still out to one-third of the population. Grassley, a Republican, says it’s nonsense to quibble over that issue.
“I’m not sure why really worry about it right now,” Grassley says. “Get the money out that they can spend in the next few months, X number of dollars, and when those few months are up and they run out of money, appropriate more money.”
The last government shutdown in 2013 happened because, according to Grassley, “about 90% of the Congress was brand new from the last time we did it,” and they didn’t realize what a “stupid” thing it was to do.