Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have been meeting since Congress returned from the Christmas recess to finish their negotiations on this year’s spending bill, but it does not look like they will be able to pass the legislation before January 15, when the current continuing resolution will expire. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers has said that he expects the Congress to vote on a continuing resolution next week.
The Appropriators are not the only lawmakers having issues getting their bills across the finish line. Senate leaders trying to pass the unemployment benefits extension have failed to make a breakthrough, despite Majority Leader Harry Reid’s statement yesterday that he thought negotiators would have something by the end of Thursday. Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jack Reed (D-RI) suggested imposing budget cuts in 2024 to pay for the benefits, which will cost over $18 billion for the year. Republicans largely have panned the proposal. Minority Whip John Cornyn derided the plan, saying “We spend money now and we’ll get religion later on.” Other Republicans, including Senator John McCain, have criticized the length of the extension. Republicans have also been frustrated because Senator Reid has blocked their attempts at amending the bill.
The Senate’s inability extend the jobless benefits is another example of Washingtonian gridlock. Many people lament the dysfunction and acrimony and search for ways to eradicate it. This is an understandable instinct, but one could argue that the discord we are currently experience is to be expected. Veteran analyst Michael Barone cites political scientist Frances Lee, who argues that political competition fosters an atmosphere of incivility. For much of our history, one party has dominated the government, but since the 1990s, the two Chambers of Congress and the White House have switched back and forth between the parties with greater frequency. In that environment, bitterness will increase because the results of an election could significantly affect policy. “Partisans get along less because parties compete more ably. It’s proof again that you often can’t have two good things—political comity and political competition—at the same time”, Barone concludes.
And for our latest blog post: Flattening the Rules: The Implications of the Senate’s Nuclear Option