How Hard Does Congress Work in Today’s United States?

Thankfully, for the most part, I have managed to avoid the Washington talk shows today.  Here’s just a wild guess at the commentary.  GOP Senator places all blame on Harry Reid and Democratic Party if a government shutdown occurs.  Democratic Senator assigns all blame to the GOP if a government shutdown occurs.  House Members state that they have passed“reasonable” continuing resolutions to avoid a government shutdown, and the Senate is to blame.  Throw in some more Democrats blaming the GOP, GOP blaming Democrats, Tea Party blaming Democrats and GOP, and all of the Sunday media rants have been summarized.

While the political history professor side does appreciate a shift from blaming everything on the President from an understanding of Constitutional authority position, personally the blame the President argument could be reasoned as ignorance.  What’s happening now cannot be rationalized as anything other than dysfunctional selfish stupidity.

I’ll cite sources if necessary but anyone can easily discover a trend in more recent history of which many are not aware.  That trend is that few complete budgets have been passed during recent Presidential administrations and actually only a handful have passed in my lifetime.  Many of the separate appropriations bills have passed over the years, but that number is also decreasing.

Some basic information about the Federal budget process can be found here.

The Congressional Appropriations Process is summarized in a quick introduction here.

Since recent Congresses have been unable or unwilling to accomplish what were often routine and standard responsibilities as previous generations, much funding today occurs with continuing resolutions.

In the glossary of the United States Senate one can find this definition:

“continuing resolution/continuing appropriations – Legislation in the form of a joint resolution enacted by Congress, when the new fiscal year is about to begin or has begun, to provide budget authority for Federal agencies and programs to continue in operation until the regular appropriations acts are enacted.”

For slightly more in depth information about CRs one can look here.

Obamacare?  For this post it doesn’t matter if you favor, oppose, or are undecided.  The same is true of any program to be funded or not funded.

No matter which side of the aisle is more aligned with your personal political ideology, have you wondered why all of these spending and funding matters are pushed to the side until the moment deadlines approach?  If they keep changing the start of the fiscal year, changing the length of time that various CRs remain in force, I’m not on that text or email list.  Whether on one ideological side, the other, or with some parts gravitating to that dangerous middle in today’s world, would it not make sense to address differences well before the deadlines?  Congress will get paid.  That’s in the Constitution.  I think that Federal worker at say a National Park living from paycheck to paycheck should know if he or she will be reporting to work next week.  I think residents of DC should know if there will be garbage collection.

Posturing until the last minutes over raising the debt ceiling which is money already spent and owed resulted in a credit downgrade which increases are debt.  While I like Dr. Seuss, Senator Cruz’s reading of Green Eggs and Ham was not of the same caliber as James Earl Jones reciting The Raven in my opinion.  What really bothers me is that time Senator Cruz held the Senate Floor could have been time used to actually try to work on issues for the betterment of the United States which have a possibility of passing or at least leading to something upon which a strong foundation can be built.

Think about all the time spent on other matters.  Renaming a Federal building can be of importance, but that can be set aside for a short period without ramifications.  How many purely “symbolic” votes have been held?  How many recesses has Congress taken?

It really doesn’t matter who has the title of President of the United States of America.  Congress will not pass a budget, and a President does not have the power to veto a budget.  Instead it really is a consensus of Congress to work from one crisis to the next.  CRs as they are being used just push the issues into the future for someone else to face.

Wait, I think I heard on a talk show that the President wants to push everything off into the future.  No that may be Democrats or was it Republicans.  Come to think of it, it’s the President who wants to move too fast some of the time and moves too slow some of the time.  Congress only does the opposite of the President most of the time, and blames him practically all the time.  When people on the street or in the classroom argue that it’s always the Democrats at fault or always the Republicans at fault, I wish they would place a D or R on their foreheads.  Honestly, listening to what each supposedly stands for, I can’t tell the difference when watching events unfold.  Tea Party, Libertarians, and others aren’t much different in that the messages change like a chameleon according to the surroundings.

A question for anyone:

Whether you feel like you are “Left,” “Right,” “Moderate,” Dirty Bird Fan, Who Dat Saints Fan, UGA, Crimson Tide, LSU Tiger, Clemson Tiger, Oregon Duck, Duck Dynasty viewer, or whatever, can we agree that regardless of who we want to blame, Congress should stay in session, work out their own petty personal squabbles, and do some real work for the United States of America and not point fingers and open their palms for those special interests handouts?

BTW:  Congratulations to the University of Georgia Bulldogs for their win on Saturday between the hedges.  What I enjoyed is that neither LSU nor Georgia lost that game.  Instead Georgia won by making the plays when necessary which was often because LSU made almost as many plays.  I haven’t seen anyone really mention it in any game summaries because of the high scoring, but excellent play by the placekickers on both teams.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure the young man from LSU had that much leg at this stage, and the young man from GA 50+ yarder was a good as gets.  Sure both teams made mistakes, especially on D, but the players are young and none quit.  I expect both teams to improve because of that game.  I do prefer low scoring games, but even if the score was not in that 20 to 17 range I certainly enjoyed it.