Senate crawls its way through the Continuing Resolution
This week, the Senate is working to pass its version of the Continuing Resolution necessary to keep the federal government’s doors open. It looks like it will happen:
The Senate failed to reach an agreement Monday on further amendments to the continued spending resolution that would prevent a government shut down by funding federal spending through the fiscal year.
Despite some GOP opposition, the Senate voted 63-35 on a motion to end debate on the bill after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said a few senators would not agree to let the bill move forward without votes on their amendments. The vote showed there is enough support for final passage of the bill, expected later this week.
The good news is that sequestration is held to in the Senate bill. The bad news is, of course, that it spends so much in the first place.
The major difference between the House and Senate bills appear to be flexibility given to non-defense agencies, which is a partial return to the normal order of budgeting, something the House did not do:
But the Senate bill adds three full appropriations measures to the House version. The House bill, H.R. 933, funded Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs programs, while the Senate version adds appropriations for Agriculture, Homeland Security and the Commerce, Justice and Science funds.
Similar to the House-passed Continuing Resolution, the Senate bill is very flawed. It includes a lot of funding for Obamacare and spends too much overall. As Tea Party Patriots noted last week about the House bill:
In short, the House CR is a deeply flawed piece of legislation compared with what Tea Party activists know is necessary to stave off a fiscal crisis. However, by holding to sequestration and moving forward with some efforts to not implement Obamacare, the House deserves credit for not letting President Obama bully and intimidate it into delaying sequestration and/or allowing Obamacare to be fully implemented.
Of course, Politico reported last night that Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) has slowed things significantly – all for “a vote on his amendment to protect funding for air traffic controllers at rural airports in states like his own.” While this won’t add funding to the CR, it does raise three questions: first, why is the Senator, a member of the Tea Party Caucus in the Senate, worried about cuts in his state? Doesn’t he believe cuts are necessary, as a general principle, and better for America overall? Second, by shifting funds to his district, he’ll send the cuts elsewhere – won’t that create more of a turf battle between him and another Senator, thus causing more issues within the CR?
Politico says Senator Moran’s tactics won’t do much to delay the actual bill. Passage is still likely tomorrow. This means we’ll see Congress actually work together for something that isn’t entirely bad for the nation.
Of course, Tea Party activists won’t be pleased with the final legislation the President signs into law. Will the final legislation do even as much as the House’s bill on Obamacare? That remains to be seen, but it is likely that modest effort will be signed into law. Certainly, it won’t repeal the law, and it will only slow the rate of growth in the federal budget. And that may be all activists can get through the Beltway crowd for now.
However, the news isn’t all bad. Three years ago, the discussion was about how much to raise in taxes. Today, the debate is how much to reduce spending increases. Soon, the discussion will be about how much to cut.