As expected, congressional leaders have reached a budget deal. The government will be funded to the tune of $1.01 trillion. This amount will keep all agencies running through September of next year, except for the Department of Homeland Security. It will be funded only through late February.
Mitch McConnell says that the Senate will pass the bill before it leaves town this week. Unfortunately, this means that legislators, not to mention the public, won’t have time to read the legislation first. But maybe the GOP leadership considers this a virtue under the circumstances.
It wasn’t always thus . Alex Pappas of the Daily Caller reminds us that in 2009, John Boehner denounced a budget deal on the ground that “if Democratic leaders plan to schedule a vote on the half-trillion dollar omnibus spending bill next week, they should post the legislation online immediately so the American people have adequate time to read the measure and understand what is in it.” “Time is running short,” Boehner added, “and American taxpayers deserve to know how their hard-earned tax dollars will be used under this legislation.”
The next year, the GOP pledged to America that it would “ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives.” The rushed vote on the $1.01 trillion budget is consistent with the three-day rule only if one counts partial days (Tuesday and Thursday of this week) as full days.
What is the great virtue of pushing through an unread budget deal that will fund the government for nearly a year? Supposedly, doing so, by clearing the decks of spending issues, will pave the way for Republicans to enact their agenda. But given the legislative filibuster, the Republicans cannot expect to pass any conservative legislation next year. And the spending issues being cleared away are among the most important questions Congress will consider.
The budget deal does, one hopes, keep the matter of Obama’s executive amnesty in play, inasmuch as DHS is funded only until early next year. But as I have argued, the GOP has taken a sub-optimal approach to combating Obama’s usurpation of power, for two reasons.
First, Obama’s lawlessness might not be confined, going forward, to just amnesty. The Republican leadership’s approach will leave it helpless to respond to other lawless executives orders.
Second, the leadership’s approach takes a large-scale shutdown off the table in exchange for essentially nothing. It thus amounts to unilateral disarmament.
In addition, as Hans von Spakovsky points out, President Obama is already in the process of implementing the policies he described when he announced that he would implement executive amnesty. By late February, when DHS’s funding theoretically runs out, it probably will already have gone a long way towards implementing the president’s plan.
The budget deal comes as no surprise. Still, many conservatives will be disappointed by it. They should be.