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OUR PERSPECTIVES

Policymaking: It's Complicated



With only 12 legislative days left for the Congress to pass (and the President to sign into law) an extension of federal funding and avoid a government shutdown, it reminds me of my least favorite responses to any question: "it's complicated." While equally obscure and unhelpful, this somewhat annoying phrase ironically fits modern policymaking perfectly. While many think of policymaking and the decision-making around it to be a linear process (bill introduction, committee markup, floor passage, etc.), the complexities around the policymaking process these days are limitless.


In addition to the various positions on federal funding among Members of Congress, one also has to account for loud narratives in the press, the 2024 campaign trail, various unrelated issues that make it tougher to negotiate (i.e. the looming impeachment inquiry), a laundry list of legislative demands (i.e. riders) that policymakers are leveraging the moment for, potential economic impacts, vote counts, alignment with party policy objectives, internal factions within Congress, polling, other agenda priorities that need to be done and require attention (i.e. Farm Bill and the National Defense Authorization Act), the growing need to position outcomes as a "win," the pressure from outside groups, and the list can go on and on.


The funding process is not alone in being complex to figure out, it just happens to have bigger ramifications than most negotiations if a solution is not reached. But despite the fact that "it's complicated," leaders and well-intentioned policymakers are working behind the scenes and away from the bright lights to manage and respond to the complexities that impact an eventual solution.


Let’s not forget that the debt ceiling was complicated. The COVID response was complicated. The Speaker’s election was complicated. So, when we look at this ongoing negotiation around funding, maybe it is more accurate to say: it’s complicated, but doable.


We’ll see.


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