This Week in Washington – September 26, 2011
There is only one issue this week in Washington - a Continuing Resolution (CR). Both the House and Senate were scheduled to be out of session this week, so there are no major hearings or markups scheduled in committees. Friday is the deadline to pass a CR, therefore expect the House and Senate to convene off and on this week to cut a deal to keep the government running from September 30 to November 18.
A version of the CR failed last week after it passed the House and was killed on a motion to table in the Senate. Expect a week of blaming the Tea Party and Republicans for an approaching government shutdown as we approach Friday. The President is using this standoff to continue his blame the Tea Party Strategy for everything from a potential government shutdown, a dismal economy and the President’s awful poll numbers.
Last week, the House passed a $1.043 trillion CR and sent it over to the Senate. The bill contained $3.6 billion in disaster relief and that relief is offset by spending cuts to a green energy program. The Senate voted to table the House passed CR and will be taking up a different version today.
The green energy offset makes sense with the recent scrutiny of President Obama’s Solyndra scandal. Solyndra was the subject of President Obama’s praise for manufacturing solar panels and received just over a half billion dollars in loan subsidies. The company declared bankruptcy and is now being investigated by the FBI.
According to Roll Call, the CR fight is over the level of disaster relief and cuts to pay for this new spending.
The current showdown centers on Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster funding. The GOP-led House passed a continuing resolution Thursday, but Democrats, who control the Senate, oppose it because they say the $3.6 billion for disaster aid is inadequate and they oppose cuts in the measure designed to offset about $1.1 billion of the emergency spending.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) brought up the measure and immediately killed it. Reid now wants to take up his own bill that does not offset disaster aid. A new wrinkle in the debate is that the Reid CR actually cuts spending for disaster relief because of a drafting error.
From Congressional Quarterly:
The text of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s fiscal 2012 continuing resolution, filed as an amendment to the version the House passed (HR 2068) earlier Sept. 23, says it would provide “$774,000,00” for the nation’s Disaster Relief Fund, and “$226,000,00” for the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and coastal emergencies.
This is what happens when politicians slap together a bill and don’t use the regular order. Reid is to blame for putting a bill up for a vote tonight that cuts disaster relief at a time when the fight on this measure is over the level of disaster relief and how to pay for it.
Only in Washington could politicians be voting on a bill containing a $696,600,000 error for the Disaster Relief Fund and a $203,400,000 error for the Army Corps of Engineers. A $900 million dollar “drafting mistake” should lead to somebody getting fired, yet these federal politicians will merely shrug their shoulders and march on.
According to Roll Call the Senate will vote tonight on this flawed measure and will commence a week long negotiation before they pass a CR.
Making good on Reid’s threat to work through the recess to avoid a government shutdown, the Senate will vote Monday evening on its own CR, which is identical to the House version except that the bill does not offset the disaster spending.
I wrote in Human Events today that this whole fight is about one thing — politics.
The President and liberal members of Congress are going for broke on the Blame-the-Tea-Party strategy—and that strategy is playing out in the debate over funding the government into next year.
This fight has nothing to do with the content of the Cr. It is all about implementing the President’s strategy to blame the Tea Party for everything under the sun. The left is intent on shutting down the government then blaming Republicans for the shutdown.
Republicans have been blamed for Obama’s failed stimulus ideas. The Tea Party has been blamed for holding legislation “hostage.” Expect the President, the leader of the free world, to do his best to shift blame to a handful of House and Senate conservatives for every Presidential failing.