Here's a strategy to restart the government: continuing resolutions by department, leaving out those departments that are overseeing Obamacare.
A continuing resolution leaves the government operating at the levels of the prior fiscal year. It is increasingly used as a means of funding government, because Congress has difficulty passing budgets and appropriations bills.
Until now, a continuing resolution has been used for the entire government, not individual departments.
This weekend, the House of Representatives sent the Senate a continuing resolution to fund the government, plus amendments that delayed the Affordable Health Care Act for one year, and eliminated the 2.3 percent medical device tax.
The Senate objected to the amendments, so Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to fund the government without full funding for Obamacare. That is why it is currently closed.
But there is no reason that a continuing resolution cannot be used on an individual department basis.
It could attach the amendments to delay Obamacare and revoke the medical device tax to continuing resolutions for the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Internal Revenue Service -- agencies that fund Obamacare.
This would have the advantage of keeping those parts of the government that have nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act functioning as normal, while delaying the entire bill.
Surely the Senate would pass, and President Obama would sign, a spending resolution for the State Department and Justice Department, for example, in the same way that the House and Senate unanimously passed the Pay Our Military Act, which the president signed into law on Monday night.
The letter bill continues the pay and allowances of active-duty members, including reservists on full-time active duty, plus pay and allowances for Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security civilians and contractors who are determined to be “providing support to members of the armed forces.” It expires on Jan. 1, 2015, or when an appropriation is passed.
Our federal government is funded by appropriations passed by Congress. Both the House and the Senate have appropriations committees, and each of those panels have 13 subcommittees, each of which is supposed to pass an appropriations bill each year.
This year, as in most recent years, few appropriations bills were actually passed. In the House, five appropriations bills were passed out of committee and approved by the full House.
Only one appropriation bill was passed out of committee and approved by the full Senate. None has passed through conference and been signed into law by the president.
Sadly, this year’s record is not unusual. In the past 35 years, Congress has passed all 13 appropriations bills into law by the beginning of the new fiscal year only three times, in 1989, 1995 and 1997.
There is no reason that there should be only one continuing resolution rather than multiple separate ones. Congress has the authority to pass different continuing resolutions, one for each appropriations subcommittee that has not had its bill signed into law, or one for each agency.
Separate continuing resolutions would not solve all of the differences between Congress and the White House. The House of Representatives could still attach the amendments to delay Obamacare and revoke the medical device tax to continuing resolutions for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service — parts of the government that fund Obamacare.
The White House and congressional Republicans agree on about 95 percent of spending for fiscal year 2014. With a series of continuing resolutions, they could sort out differences without shutting down large parts of government in the process.DIANA FURCHTGOTT-ROTH, a Washington Examiner columnist and former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.