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The ability of our federal government to continue operating, paying its employees and bills and fulfilling its utilitarian obligations to taxpayers should never be tied to partisan controversy.

Recent history shows us members of Congress and the White House can't stop themselves from tying something as basic as keeping government offices open to partisan divisions.

Perhaps it's time for laws or congressional rules that would achieve this goal — or at the very least, financial incentives to discourage members of Congress from such behavior.

It's clearly what the American people want.

At the writing of this editorial, it appeared a three-day government shutdown was finally on the verge of being lifted.

The U.S. Senate had voted 81-18 to end the squabbling-induced shutdown Monday, and it appeared the House was poised to pass the measure as well.

The compromise in this case is a short-term spending package to keep government open through Feb. 8 in exchange for a promise from Republican leaders to address the fate of young undocumented immigrants, commonly referred to as Dreamers.

It's a temporary stopgap measure, and our nation deserves better.

Regardless of where one falls on the highly charged immigration issue, such polices should never be tied to the essential functions of operating government offices.

Meanwhile, most U.S. citizens are shaking their heads, to say nothing about how this squabbling portrays us to the rest of the world.

The Dreamers issue, revolving around immigrants who have been in this country, in some cases since infancy, deserves to be definitively dealt with.

But to tie the fortunes of a functioning government to any legislative deals, particularly controversial ones, opens the door to a self-imposed hostage situation perpetuated by partisanship.

We call upon Indiana's congressional leaders to guide the federal government on this matter.

It's time to consider laws or congressional rules keeping these types of legislative controversies from being tied to basic spending on government operations.

Paying our military, national park workers or keeping open government facilities vital to our citizens never should be viewed as bargaining chips.

Right now, federal law calls for members of Congress to continue collecting paychecks even in cases of government shutdown.

Congressional members should be forced to forgo pay until and unless the government over which they are stewards is funded and functioning.

Both political parties have devolved into name-calling and finger pointing rather than discussing ways to fundamentally change government to prevent future shutdowns.

Citizens of this great nation demand and deserve it.


Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Local News Editor Marc Chase, Lake County Editor Crista Zivanovic, Porter/LaPorte County Editor Doug Ross and Deputy Local Editor Erin Orr.