FarmPolicy

October 21, 2017

Budget Issues Linger– Could Portend Problems with Trade

Categories: Budget /Trade

Siobhan Hughes and Kristina Peterson reported in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal that, “Congress temporarily avoided a partial shutdown of the Homeland Security Department Friday night, approving a one-week extension of the agency’s funding as its midnight deadline approached.

“Support for the one-week patch came together Friday night hours after a three-week short-term spending bill was defeated in the House in a blow to the chamber’s GOP leaders.

“After watching top House Republicans’ plan derail Friday afternoon, House Democrats helped GOP leaders find the votes to pass the one-week funding measure Friday night in a 357-60 vote. House Republican leaders brought the one-week bill to the floor under a fast-track procedure that required a two-thirds majority for passage.”

The Journal writers noted that, “The defection of more than 50 Republicans represented an embarrassment for [House Speaker John Boehner] and was also an early setback in Republican efforts to prove they can effectively govern the GOP-controlled Congress…[T]he struggle to pass even a short-term fix in the House highlighted the tightrope Mr. Boehner must walk, despite controlling the biggest House GOP majority in decades.

“Though Mr. Boehner currently leads a pack of 245 House Republicans, potential defections from either the conservative or centrist wing on tough bills leave him little room to maneuver on votes where Democrats withhold their support.”

Lisa Mascaro and Michael A. Memoli reported in Saturday’s Los Angeles Times that, “The legislative maneuvering left conservatives upset that they had been unable to stop Obama’s immigration plan and more pragmatic Republicans weary of dragging out the fight over Homeland Security funds at continued risk.”

Carl Hulse reported in Saturday’s New York Times that, “The tense meltdown in the House on Friday over funding for the Department of Homeland Security underscores how Congress has lost the ability to perform its most basic functions no matter which party is in charge.”

Mr. Hulse pointed out that, “But the dysfunction also worried lawmakers from both parties who want to make some bipartisan deals on issues like taxes.

“‘My hope is that this does not define the session,’ said Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee. ‘We have to find some common ground.'”

Ashley Parker also writing in Saturday’s New York Times, reported that, “The funding stalemate bodes poorly for any larger policy accomplishments this year, leaving lawmakers pessimistic that the 114th Congress will be able to work in a bipartisan fashion on more complicated issues.

“The Office of Management and Budget has said that a vote to increase the nation’s debt limit will be necessary by mid-to late summer, and lawmakers were also hoping to take up trade policy, as well as at least a modest overhaul of the nation’s tax code — undertakings that now look increasingly imperiled.”

And The Washington Post editorial board opined on Sunday that, “The House has become an embarrassing spectacle, and the promises of Republican leaders in both houses to govern without hop-scotching from crisis to crisis have been shredded. Speaker John A. Boehner’s control of the tea party faction in his GOP caucus is so slight he couldn’t even manage a three-week funding extension for DHS, let alone approving a budget through the end of the fiscal year in September.

Now, instead of tackling major legislation, Congress will be paralyzed for more days — and perhaps even longer — as House Republicans continue to insist on measures to reverse Mr. Obama’s immigration moves that have no chance of passage in the Senate, no chance of being signed by the president and no chance of becoming law.”

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