With the End of the Fiscal Year Nearing, Congress Again Punts Downfield | Citizens Against Government Waste

With the End of the Fiscal Year Nearing, Congress Again Punts Downfield

The WasteWatcher

Once again, Congress has fumbled one of its primary functions by failing to pass the 12 appropriations bills necessary to keep the government operational before the end of the fiscal year.  With government funding running out in nine days, Congress is now considering a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government operating at current levels and prevent a government shutdown. 

This last-minute effort to keep the government running within days of the end of the fiscal year is by no means an outlier for Congress.  Since 1998, Congress has passed 119 CRs.  The repeated failure to pass appropriations bills on time has become a hallmark of the abject failure of legislators to fulfill one of their most basic (and Constitutional) duties, and there are no signs that this practice will stop any time soon.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Congress has enacted more than $7.2 trillion in spending, much of which had nothing to do with COVID-19; more than $1 trillion of that money remains unspent.  But the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package and the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill will increase that amount to more than $11.8 trillion.  This has caused some hesitation on the part of a few Democratic senators and representatives. 

Currently, only nine appropriations bills have passed the House of Representatives, and none have been voted on by the Senate.  These delays have led to the need to pass a CR that keeps spending at the same levels as they were during the last year of President Trump’s administration.

Passing last-minute CRs highlights Congress’ incompetence and ineptitude, creates uncertainty for federal agencies, and continues to diminish the public’s view of the Washington quagmire.  While Congress may avoid a government shutdown before the end of September, they will face the same problem when the  proposed CR expires on December 3, 2021.  Instead of punting their responsibilities and continuing to pass CRs, Congress should perform its most basic responsibility and make passing the appropriations bills a priority. 

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