Congress Looks to Punt Government Funding Deadline Five Days
Despite repeated promises by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to pass a government funding bill, it does not appear as if Congress is headed towards any comprehensive spending package to keep the government funded beyond the current December 11 deadline. Yesterday, Speaker Ryan recognized that no final spending deal was in sight and suggested yet another short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to provide lawmakers more time to negotiate a larger spending bill. And late last night, a short-term CR was introduced to fund the government through December 16. While President Obama has vowed to veto any short-term CR that did not fund the government to the levels established in the October debt-limit deal, all signs point to the President accepting yet another short-term CR to protect the American people from another government shutdown.
Unfortunately, this political gamesmanship is nothing new to federal employees. What’s worse, because of the highly volatile political posturing that is paralyzing lawmakers, rational thinking and bipartisan deals are few and far between. In the same way political gamesmanship nearly destroyed the full faith and credit of the U.S. government in October, similarly volatile political issues are at the heart of the current funding fight.
One example of the political issues holding up the current appropriations process is one sought by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), in which he is seeking to open the floodgates for Washington special interests to spend unlimited amounts on political campaigns. Senator McConnell is a known opponent of campaign finance laws, and he is using his power as Senate Majority Leader to allow multinational corporations and billionaires to spend unlimited sums of money directly supporting their hand-picked candidates. Senator McConnell is seeking to attach this rollback of campaign finance laws as a “rider” to the spending package – despite opposition from both sides of the aisle.
There are countless riders like Senator McConnell’s that are holding up funding the U.S. government, and there is no end in sight to this political volatility. Once again, Congress is giving federal employees the short end of the stick.
“The days of good governance and bipartisanship from Congress are gone,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. “It is a sad state of affairs when politicians pushing their own political agenda are obstructing our country’s ability to do the business of the American people. In October, we saw political issues nearly send our country into default, and now Congress is once again unable to pass any long-term appropriations because of the politically toxic riders placed on spending bills. Federal employees deserve better than this. American taxpayers deserve better than this. Congress must end this governing by artificial crisis mentality and actually do the job it was elected to do.”