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SIMMONS: Shutdown looms, but I say, I say there, Mr. Mayor, y’all ain’t funny
D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray is promoting cockiness instead of confidence as Americans become nervous Nellies over whether the White House and Congress will avert a government shutdown.
Like the president and members of Congress, the mayor and members of the D.C. Council are engaging in child's play, a game of kick the can.
It's as if they're determined to push Americans closer to the edge, when many are already close to losing their heads, their homes and their livelihoods.
Most federal employees will continue working if a spending plan is not reached by midnight Monday, although national parks, museums and some defense-related services could be shuttered.
You likely won't be able to get a gun permit if a shutdown happens or, for that matter, a passport, visa or security clearance.
And the mail? Well, you know the adage.
As for shuttering parks and libraries and postponing road pavings and garbage collections, that's where local and state governments come in.
Some motor vehicle services may be interrupted, but rest assured that other public safety service providers will be on their j-o-b.
For sure, although this would not be our first government shutdown, some power brokers have more to learn than others.
Take Mr. Gray, who, while elected only by registered D.C. voters, could be considered the nation's mayor.
As mayor of "our" capital, instead of making hard, confident choices as a shutdown looms, he, too, is choosing to kick the can.
The mayor wants to declare not only that all 30,000 or so people employed by the city are essential to keeping the D.C. government open during a shutdown, but also that city hall should use the $144 million contingency fund to keep it open.
Bridges and roads would remain open despite a shutdown. Public transit would keep rolling, and first responders, like those who tended to the recent Navy Yard bloodletting, would remain in place. Hospitals and schools would not be shuttered, either.
So what gives with city hall's cockiness?
In short, Mr. Gray is acting at once like the obnoxious and endearing Foghorn Leghorn: obnoxiously cocklike but endearing to anti-constitutional adherents — except Foghorn is a cartoon character.
Neither option under consideration by city hall can be characterized as humorous.
The very stable in city hall that would rather buck our founding documents than make hard choices is overcrowded with the same characters who were forced by the Supreme Court to allow D.C. residents to finally exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Major differences on spending are beckoning Congress and the White House to reach a spending compromise.
City hall should heed that call, as well. If the mayor and council members do not and choose instead to leave the spigot on, "our" mayor will be risking the possibility that there will be no can at all for future generations.
• Deborah Simmons can be reached at email@example.com.
Note: An earlier version of this column cited an outdated figure for the amount of money in the city's contingency cash reserve fund. The error has been corrected.
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About the Author
Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...
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