Budget details: you couldn’t make this stuff up, if you tried
It’s not like Congress didn’t know they had to pass a federal budget.
It’s not like they didn’t have lots and lots of time to put an appropriations bill together, either before or after the elections.
It’s not like they didn’t know what happens when the money runs out. (Hint: not all that much, actually. Except that 800,000 federal workers are required to work without being paid.)
No, this Congress knew all too well what would happen. Since President Obama was elected, Congress has:
- had a budget crisis in March 2009
- had a budget crisis in September 2009
- had a budget crisis in September 2010
- had THREE budget crises in December 2010
- had TWO budget crises in March 2011
- had a budget crisis in April 2011
- had a budget crisis in August 2012
- had a budget crisis in September 2012
- had a budget crisis in March 2013
- had a budget crisis – and a government shutdown – in October 2013
- had a budget crisis in January 2014
- and had a budget crisis just three months ago.
(That’s a rough list. No guarantees of accuracy, I may have missed some. And it doesn’t include the debt-limit crises.)
And yet once again, this weekend, right now… Congress finds itself in a budget emergency.
And from listening to some of the politicians, you’d almost think no-one could have predicted this.
And with all their angst (“Emergency!” “Emergency!” “Can’t let the government shutdown again!”)…
… it would be really easy to overlook some of the so-called “details” of this spending bill. Details like:
- The so-called “Citibank” provision that would undo part of Dodd-Frank financial regulation, and allow big banks to rely on the FDIC to backstop risky derivative trades. (Read NHLN coverage here and here.)
- The Kline-Miller amendment, which would allow cuts to the earned retirement benefits of millions of retirees. AARP calls it a “secret attack by Congress” and a “last minute backroom deal.” (Read the AARP alert here.)
- The (ahem) provision to help the GOP afford its next convention. According to the New York Times, “The secret negotiations that led to one of the most significant expansions of campaign contributions in recent years began with what Republican leaders regarded as an urgent problem: How would they pay for their presidential nominating convention in Cleveland in two years? It ended with a bipartisan agreement … that would allow wealthy donors to begin giving more than $1 million every election cycle to each party’s national committees.” (Wow. 2016 is going to be a record-breaking presidential campaign season.)
- The “Collins rider,” which would increase truck driver hours of service, and other provisions that would increase truck weight limits in Kentucky, Mississippi and Wisconsin. “None of these special interest [provisions] has been subject to any committee hearings, adequate safety review or cost/benefit analysis. However, all of them will have a profound impact on highway safety, deaths and injuries.” The bill will “eliminate the two nights off-duty for truck drivers to rest, while significantly increasing working and driving hours for truck drivers up to 82 hours a week when fatigue is already a well-known and well-documented highway killer.” (Read the Truck Safety Coalition alert here.)
- Provisions prohibiting the Fish and Wildlife Service from adding the sage grouse to the endangered species list. This one was apparently added “at the behest of grazing, mining, and oil and gas interests.” (Read more here.)
According to the Hill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the GOP added “nearly 100” special interest riders to the bill.
The five, above, are just the ones that have already attracted public attention.
Can’t help but wonder what ELSE is in that bill.