Omnibus spending bill goes into overtime this week

EddieMunsterThe GOP’s alleged boy genius and Ayn Rand fanboy, Rep. Paul Ryan, “the zombie-eyed granny starver from Wisconsin” has only been on the job as Speaker of the House for a few weeks, but already he has failed to meet his first deadline. Not an auspicious start.

The deadline to fund the government was Friday, December 11 to avoid a government shutdown, but the GOP’s FlimFlam Man decided to take a knee and let the clock run out to play for overtime. This demonstrates that Ryan has not yet been able to bring the wild-eyed radical extremists of the GOP House Freedom Caucus to heel, and that he is not really the man in charge.

The Hill reports, House clears bill to avoid shutdown:

The House cleared legislation on Friday to avert a government shutdown hours before a midnight deadline and as top congressional leaders pressed toward closing a deal on a long-term spending bill.

Congress now has until Wednesday, December 16 to either pass a yearlong spending package or another stopgap bill to avoid a shutdown.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill, which passed by voice vote, before midnight. The Senate approved the measure by voice vote before adjourning for the weekend on Thursday.

House GOP aides said Friday that the timing for passage of the larger spending deal, known as an omnibus, was still fluid. The goal is to post the text of the legislation by Monday, but slow negotiations could push that to Tuesday.

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House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced the House won’t have its first votes of the week until Tuesday night, an indication that the omnibus will be released later rather than sooner.

Appropriators are waiting on leadership to resolve disagreements over major policy amendments ranging from lifting the crude oil export ban to halting the Syrian refugee program. Once those issues are settled, lawmakers can then iron out the remaining parts of the massive funding package.

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House GOP leaders want to adhere to a self-imposed rule to make legislation public for at least three calendar days before voting on it. Even if the omnibus is released Monday and the House passes it on Wednesday, the Senate may need additional time to consider it.

Unless all senators cooperate to move the omnibus package quickly, the measure could be bogged down in procedural hurdles for as much as a week.

Depending on what policy riders are included in the omnibus, presidential candidates such as Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) could use the bill as a platform for their campaigns and slow down the process as they have in the past with other legislation.

Roll Call today asks the obvious question, Every December, Why All the Drama?

Every December brings anxieties about Congress finishing its work in time to avert a government shutdown. Christmas cheer is overshadowed by partisan finger pointing; lawmakers have months to come to an agreement on spending priorities and policy riders, but don’t.

Before they headed home this past weekend, many rank-and-file lawmakers paused to consider why they find themselves in a deadline rush every December and whether it will ever be different.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan caught people by surprise when he said the day before the government’s funding expired that Dec. 11 was an “arbitrary” goalpost.

“Look,” the Wisconsin Republican said at his weekly news conference. “Deadlines come and deadlines go. We want to make sure that we get it right.”

Congress bought some time on Dec. 11 when it passing a five-day continuing resolution to keep federal operations afloat. However, Ryan’s comments marked the first time in recent memory a top House Republican publicly shrugged at the reality that negotiations had gone that far down to the wire.

One reporter questioned whether Ryan’s attitude was one of “nonchalance.” But the new speaker wasn’t saying anything most people in the Capitol didn’t already know.

In the House, rank-and-file lawmakers passed the short-term CR by voice vote on Dec. 11 and shortly thereafter headed home for the weekend, leaving senior negotiators and their staff to finish the year-end omnibus appropriations talks.

Rolling spending measures into one massive package, or “omnibus,” has likely exacerbated the end-of-the-year crunch. “Since 2001, only about a quarter of those appropriations bills have been handled as stand-alone measures,” explained Molly Reynolds, a fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution.

The 12th month of every year is a time for heartburn, headaches and hand wringing — and then everything works out, or at least enough so that members can go home before Christmas.

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Zero-sum games are just as much a part of spending spill negotiations as they are a part of talks between athletes and sports teams or between striking laborers and management, said Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a longtime observer of Congress.

“It’s not just procrastination,” he said. “Everybody believes that in the end, you’ve got more leverage. And of course, it’s not necessarily the case that both sides have more leverage … it’s the perception.”

What makes it worse in Congress, he added, is partisan dysfunction.

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Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., is capitalizing on the year-end scramble in the partisan messaging wars, recently tweeting a riff on Adele’s new hit single.

He wrote: “Hello from the other side/we postponed this 1000 times/I’m sorry/we don’t know how to legislate/Republicans made us wait til the last date.”

One response to “Omnibus spending bill goes into overtime this week

  1. Frances Perkins

    The lyrics should be, “We would rather grandstand than govern, after all grandstanding is what our insane base wants!”