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09.03.2014 0

Beware the lame duck budget

Not_a Lame_Duck

By Robert Romano

Another summer is coming to a close, of course that means Congress has not finished its annual budget yet.

The government has been operating under continuing resolutions for much of the past five years, pointing to a broken appropriations process that likely will not be restored until long after the Obama administration is in the history books come 2017.

And with the fiscal year rapidly coming to an end on September 30, it is now the eleventh hour to get fiscal year 2015 funding in place with another partial government shutdown looms on the horizon.

It’s not from a lack of trying. The Republican-led House of Representatives has passed 7 appropriations bills this year, including 215 spending amendments. The trouble is in Harry Reid’s Democrat-controlled Senate, where not a single appropriations bill has been brought off the floor all year long. And with an election looming in November, will not be for the remaining four months of 2014.

So, bet on another continuing resolution this month. The only question will be its duration.

Congressional Democrats want to kick the can into the post-election, lame duck period, so they can use another anticipated shutdown to their advantage to achieve their budget priorities without having to worry about voter backlash.

Yet, Congressional Republicans would be foolish to accept such a deal. They appear poised to reclaim the Senate this year, and would be better positioned to take up the 2015 budget in January or February or March when the numbers in both chambers will likely favor them.

After all, if Senate Democrats do not wish to face voters with a clear record on fiscal issues, and refuse to pass a budget before November’s elections, then they simply shouldn’t be allowed to pass one afterward.

It is not an unreasonable position for Republicans to make the case that funding the government for six months until a new Congress convenes is the only sensible thing to do. Who wants another budget battle right before Christmas anyway? What good could possibly come out of that?

There won’t be any balanced budgets. No defunding of Obamacare. No stopping Obama’s illegal immigration amnesty.  Nothing.

Yet, if House Republicans fear a shutdown hurting their chances in November, expect them to get rolled in budget negotiations. Then, they might pass whatever Harry Reid hands them, even if that takes the continuing resolution to early December.

Congressional Democrats have been begging for a “clean” continuing resolution for years. Perhaps now it’s time to give them one. That way the American people can avoid any lame duck shenanigans where taxpayers are likely to get hosed.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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