- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 6, 2019

House Democrats plan to start passing individual spending bills this week, starting with one that funds the IRS, to try to pressure congressional Republicans and the White House amid the ongoing partial government shutdown.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the strategy over the weekend, after Democrats passed a package of bills Thursday that provides full-year funding for eight affected departments and extends current-year funding for homeland security through Sept. 8.

Mrs. Pelosi said the first individual bill on deck is the spending bill that covers the Treasury Department and IRS.

“This action is necessary so that the American people can receive their tax refunds on schedule,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “The certainty of the tax returns of hard-working families should no longer be held hostage to the president’s reckless demands.”

The White House has already rejected the House-passed legislation, saying it falls short on border security.

But passing the bills one-by-one will allow Democrats to try to highlight the potential real-world effects of the partial shutdown, which has now stretched beyond two weeks.

“Unless Congress acts, the American people will not receive their tax refunds, families will lose food stamps, homebuyers seeking mortgages will remain in limbo, and our National Parks will continue to accumulate garbage and waste,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.

House Democrats also plan to act on three other individual bills that cover funding for the departments of agriculture, interior, and transportation, among other programs.

House Republicans employed a similar strategy during the 2013 government shutdown when they rolled out smaller, piecemeal bills to re-open shuttered national parks and other programs to try to pressure the Senate, then controlled by Democrats.

Former Sen. Harry Reid, then the majority leader, wouldn’t take them up, saying lawmakers shouldn’t pick and choose individual departments and that the entire government should be re-opened.

In October 2013, Mr. Reid shot down a question on why Democrats wouldn’t take up a bill to fund the National Institutes of Health.

“If you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?” asked CNN’s Dana Bash.

“Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own,” replied Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat.

Mr. Reid tweeted later: “Republicans are in such desperate straits that they have literally resorted to accusing me of not caring about kids with cancer. Shameful.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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