I’m sitting at my desk watching the floor and was surprised to see a stopgap spending bill (our first Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2012) go down in flames.
The bill would have funded the US government for a few weeks until a larger bill could be drafted. This bill would have funded the government only until November 18, 2011 at an annualized rate of $1.043 trillion, consistent with the level set in the Budget Control Act (which just passed a few months ago and was signed into law by President Obama). This level represents a $1.5% across-the-board cut from FY11 funding.
Personally, this vote should have been one of the easiest votes to take this budget cycle. It is temporary, it funds disaster relief, and it is a reduction in funding from the previous year. However, the legislation failed when Democrats pulled back their support in protest of cuts made to offset disaster aid in the package, and when Tea Party members complained about the overall level of funding in the bill.
The bill included $3.7 billion for disaster relief as part of the overall funding bill. Because Republicans and Democrats have publicly vowed to not add more deficit spending to these bills, House Republicans included $1.5 billion in cuts to a government loan program to help car companies build fuel-efficient vehicles to help pay for the relief funding.
Last week, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Norman Dicks, had backed the same bill but today, he reversed himself under pressure from his caucus, creating a more partisan battleground.
Another sacred cow (see my last post)! The measure failed by a vote of 195-230 and this is just to fund the government until November 18!
I know they will eventually pass something, but I have to believe that pushing the envelope to the last minute – particularly on bills that should pass – is the type of action that helps Congress maintain their 12% approval rating.
At this rate, the ride to passing a full funding bill, and the implementation of the Super Committee’s recommendations on debt reduction, should be a rather bumpy and bruising one! Hang on – its bound to get worse before it gets better.