House of Representatives
Opens and Tours – Americans did not fare well in sporting events across the pond this weekend; leaving us Yanks to rely on past memories of success at the British Open and Tour de France as well as the understanding that our economy is not quite as bad off as those of the countries that are beating us. Meanwhile, lawmakers in Washington continue to negotiate treacherous links and steep climbs in the quest to complete legislation.
Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL) today introduced important legislation to create a more transparent budget regime towards putting the country on a sustainable fiscal path. The “Transparent and Sustainable Budget Act of 2010” contains several sound ideas for improving the budget process.
In addition to providing for a more accurate accounting of federal expenditures, the bill also requires the establishment of debt and deficit reduction goals. Key provisions include:
A few days after Senate Republicans jumped on board the Sessions-McCaskill bandwagon, 58 House Democrats called for greater restraint of spending and the offsetting of new stimulus spending in the long-run.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) leads this group of Democrats, who put an emphasis on the strengthening of budget enforcement mechanisms. The letter says about PAYGO:
Running for the Exits – The “Running of the Bulls” has begun in Pamplona, Spain. Combine that with the celebrations over the country’s World Cup victory yesterday and you have quite a volatile mix. Washington has its own precarious situation, though not nearly as colorful or fun. A full agenda and little time on the Congressional calendar will make for a hectic rush, especially in the Senate. Congress returns this week from its July Fourth recess with a small window before it leaves again for a month-long August recess.
Late last night the House passed a supplemental appropriations bill ostensibly to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, lawmakers supplemented the supplemental with plenty of funds that will never get anywhere near the Middle East.
As expected, the House came out today with its "budget enforcement resolution." What's the difference between a budget enforcement resolution and a traditional budget resolution? A lot of things, as it turns out.
Here they go again. As they have for years, lawmakers are attempting to tuck billions of dollars for unrelated programs into the war supplemental spending bill. The House version of the $61.5 billion appropriations bill, likely to go to the floor this week, contains funding for a variety of non-war programs, including some $5.7 billion for the Pell Grant program.
Today, Congressional negotiators agreed upon a plan to reform the American financial regulation system—which, if it passes next week, would constitute the “most sweeping set of financial reforms since those that followed the Great Depression,” according to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
For weeks, Congress has been re-tooling and re-tooling the extenders bill (HR 4213), looking for 60 votes to pass. Two things have held constant: lawmakers have been unwilling to enact the bills, and lawmakers have not offset the costs. Of course, the two are related. The newest Senate bill, released on Thursday, trims the gross cost and deficit impact to $103 billion and $27 billion, respectively, from $118 billion and $55 billion.
Even in best years the congressional appropriations process usually results in a proverbial train wreck. And this year is shaping up to be such a bad year that news headline writers may have to come up with a new description. The spending process which begins this week is fraught with bumps and unanswered questions.