(Bloomberg Opinion) -- A 17-member panel representing Democrats and Republicans from both houses of Congress has until Feb. 15 to come up with a plan for border security to avoid another government shutdown. A bipartisan compromise is achievable — especially if one clear goal is kept in mind.
Rather than worry about how to grant or deny President Trump a win in his efforts to secure funding for his wall, the conference committee should build a veto-proof majority to move past this pointless quarrel and keep the government running.
It’s encouraging that the panel, by design, includes lawmakers who seem inclined to make a deal. Senate Republicans want to avoid another shutdown because the last one went down badly with the public, and their side got most of the blame. Democrats will want to avoid any suspicion that the next shutdown, if it happens, is their fault.
One workable compromise might be to combine a settlement for the so-called Dreamers with $5 billion or more of new funding for border security, including a portion for sections of fencing that people so inclined could call a wall. If progress on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is too fraught a topic for these talks, an agreement limited to extra spending for border security, something Democrats haven’t ruled out, can still be done.
The main thing is to squelch the idea that government by shutdown makes sense. It’s a tactic that most of the public deplore and that imposes enormous costs on the economy for no good reason.
Whatever second thoughts Trump may be having about owning the previous shutdown are beside the point. Both parties in Congress should recognize that their first duty is to govern well, and that the Constitution gives them the power of the purse. A shutdown over spending is, quite simply, an abdication of that responsibility.
Neither party should tolerate shutdowns, much less seek them for tactical purposes. Regardless of the president’s calculations, Congress can and should make a deal to keep the government open, and build a veto-proof majority to make it stick.
—Editors: Clive Crook, Mary Duenwald.
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