As if we needed yet another example of just how dysfunctional our government is, enter the DACA/immigration gridlock tied to the threat of shutting down the government — again.

Shutting down the government — really? Haven’t we seen this movie before? I have written several times in the past on this topic, but with different supporting actors. This year it is DACA/immigration that some are trying to tie to the bill. Last year, it was the President’s budget proposal causing the shutdown crisis, and in 2013, the government actually did shut down because repealing Obamacare was one of the added-on issues.

Every year there seems to be crisis after crisis in Congress stemming from looming deadlines. For decades, I have been shaking my head at the total inability of our government to effectively deal with deadlines.

Meeting deadlines without the drama; is that too much to ask? We as individuals do it all of the time in our personal lives and in our workplaces; yet how often does an “emergency” arise on the Hill because some deadline or another is rapidly approaching?

What can be done? Here’s what I would suggest to help alleviate the problem.

Enough with this tacking stuff onto bills being proposed. This is what causes all of the delays which then turn into vitriol and deeper schisms between the parties. One item per bill. No “pork” or ideological add-ons.

After enacting that process, the next factor for eliminating the majority of the crises is scheduling. There are deadlines that have to be met and with the “one issue per bill” policy, proper planning to comfortably meet deadlines shouldn’t be difficult. Think about it. With a bill limited to only one issue, yea or nay should happen pretty quickly.

OK, so it is the government. Maybe pretty quickly is a reach; but it certainly would reduce the time spent arguing over add-on parameters. If legislative scheduling is properly constructed, it would eliminate the time crunch. This is not rocket science. Elected officials should heed the advice we give to our children: Learn from your mistakes.

In our latest self-imposed crisis, the term “clean bill” is being bandied about DACA. They should all be clean bills. DACA, immigration, funding the government; if standing alone, each issue is surely easier to tackle than throwing them all into an arena with the rest of us appalled watching the “dog-fighting” before us.

As of the writing of this column, all is still up in the air. Whatever happens; isn’t it time that we stop holding the functioning of the government hostage to whatever disputed issue(s) happens to be on the table at the time?

Nothing is simple in government, but this just seems like a no-brainer. If an issue can’t stand on its own merits, then it deserves to be voted down. And maybe our legislators will stop putting forth adjuncts to bills in the hope of “slipping them through” and start effectively legislating. I think it would go a long way toward reducing their self-inflicted crises. 

Wendy J. Levenfeld is a published novelist, playwright and columnist. Send comments to Visit wendy’s website at

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