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Senate Democrats to Bypass Appropriations Process

It is funny how those who believe Congress has unlimited power to regulate the private sector are abdicating their primary constitutional responsibility.  Senate Democrats have not passed a budget in 1,169 days.  Last year, despite their failure to comply with the Budget Act of 1974 and to pass a budget resolution, they made an effort to pass a couple of individual appropriations bills.  Now Roll Call is reporting that they are planning to ignore the entire appropriations process, opting for a continuing resolution showdown from the get-go. This, despite Reid’s promise earlier this year to complete work on the spending bills for Fiscal Year 2013.

And they’re not embarrassed to say so.

In fact, Harry Reid is actually claiming that the reason they will not pass a budget or a single appropriations bill is because the House did pass a budget:

Amid lingering differences with the House over government spending, Senate Democrats may not pass any appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today said the major hurdle to completing the appropriations process is the House GOP, which has been pushing for spending cuts greater than what was agreed to under last year’s Budget Control Act. The House is moving its spending bills in accordance with the House Republican budget resolution, which sets spending at $19 billion less than the $1.047 trillion spending level agreed to in that measure.

“We passed last August legislation that is now law that set forth the spending for this country during the next fiscal year,” said Reid. “They refuse to adhere to that. So that makes it hard to do these appropriation bills.”

Harry Reid is contending that Republicans are not allowed to pass a budget and follow the Budget Act of 1974 because they already established spending caps in the debt ceiling bill (Budget Control Act) last August.  This would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad.  All the Budget Control Act (BCA) does is set a topline discretionary spending cap.  It doesn’t specify the funding levels for the thousands of line items within that topline number.  Imagine if you would sit down to formulate a personal budget and rely solely on the topline spending figure, instead of working out the individual costs for specific expenditures.  Following Reid’s logic, the Senate would be exempt from passing a budget for another 10 years.

Moreover, the BCA doesn’t mandate a spending floor; it only prescribes a cap.  The debt has increased another $1.6 trillion since passage of the BCA.  It is not a cardinal sin to cut more.  Furthermore, the Senate Parliamentarian already ruled that the BCA does not constitute a budget.

The real motivation for not passing a budget is to avoid the embarrassment of putting out 12 bloated spending bills, which will be full of undesirable expenditures such as implementation of Obamacare.  Why make all his red state Democrats suffer the humiliation 12 times when he can roll them all into one omnibus bill at the end of the year?

In order to accomplish his goal, Reid needs House Republicans to abandon their budget and give him bipartisan coverage.  They mustn’t fall into the trap the same way they did last year.  As imperfect as it is, Republicans have a budget that cuts some spending and defunds Obamacare.  They must refuse to negotiate with Democrats until they pass a budget and all 12 spending bills in regular order.  The imperative of formulating a budget is something that even the average voter understands.  There’s no reason why Republicans can’t take that message – 1,169 days without a Democrat budget – to the American people.

Let’s grow beyond the cycle of capitulation that marred the legacy of the House majority in 2011.

Cross-posted from The Madison Project

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