By ANDREW TAYLORThe Associated Press
updated 12/8/2010 6:52:21 PM ET
WASHINGTON — Democrats controlling the House muscled through legislation Wednesday night that would freeze the budgets of most Cabinet departments and fund the war in Afghanistan for another year.
The bill would cap the agencies’ annual operating budgets at the $1.2 trillion approved for the recently finished budget year — a $46 billion cut of more than 3 percent from President Barack Obama’s request.
Much more at the link.
The bill pushed through would also provide $159 billion for the “Overseas Contingency Operations” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Republicans in the House opposed it, as did many Democrats; the Republicans contend that the bill still spends too much money and represents a complete collapse of the federal budgetary process. They’re right about that, but this time it might be wiser to just let it pass.
In an ideal world, they’d pass a continuing resolution which would let the incoming Congress finish the appropriations that the eleventy-first Congress couldn’t get done. Then again, in an ideal world, the Congress would have gotten the whole budget passed before the beginning of FY2011 in the first place.
So, why do I think that the Senate Republicans ought to just let this pass (without, of course, allowing Senator Daniel Inouye’s (D-HI) substitute which would spend an additional $20 billion)? Because the incoming 112th Congress has so much work to do on the budget for FY2012, to look at every single item in the budget and find places to cut, that having to spend the first couple of months wrangling about finishing the FY2011 budget will, in the long run, hurt getting the FY2012 budget done properly and passed in a timely manner.
This continuing resolution bovine feces is a terrible way to do a budget, and it shows just how sloppy and inefficient the Democrats have been. As the AP story noted, not only has this miserable Congress not passed any of the twelve annual appropriations bills, but “ten of (the twelve) House bills haven’t even been made public.” But having the next Congress start from scratch, to try to finish out those appropriations bills, to cover only part of a year, will hurt us in the long run.
This omnibus bill is a $46 billion cut from the President’s original FY2011 request, a 3% cut. That, in itself, is at least a decent start, even if it wasn’t nearly enough of a cut. It comes close (though not quite) to paying for the unemployment extension, which was a point that Senate Republicans had made in opposing the extension.
The incoming Republican majority in the House of Representatives has a huge amount of work awaiting it; if the Senate Republicans fight getting this done, they will sabotage their goals in the next Congress. Yeah, I’d like to see more spending cut, too, but what could actually get done? A replacement CR would take us to what, the end of February, with five months of FY2011 already gone? Whatever cuts the Republicans could find would be half-way measures, since nearly half of the fiscal year would be gone. There comes a point at which not doing what you can get done is worse than holding out for what you can’t get done; on the FY2011 budget, the Republicans have reached that point.
Let’s get this stuff over with, and get to work on what needs to be done for the next budget.