Continuing Resolution Hits senate Roadblock
The Senate debate on the House-passed long-term Continuing Resolution (CR) has hit a roadblock. Last week in the Senate, both the House Republican proposal to cut $61 billion and the Senate Democrat proposal to cut $10 billion were defeated. Neither proposal received a simple majority of senators. A government slowdown seems inevitable.
It was shocking to see the President send a message of support to Congress requesting Senate passage of the Democrat CR proposal, a substitute amendment sponsored Sen. Daniel Inouye (D.-Hawaii), and have 11 members of the Democratic Caucus vote against the wishes of the Democratic President. Senators. Bernie Sanders (I.-Vt.) and Carl Levin (D.-Mich.) even went so far as to call for higher taxes during the debate. Liberals refuse to make real and deep cuts to the budget.
Expect another short-term CR to keep the government running for a few more weeks, and then a repeat of this same fight on a long-term CR through March and April.
Liberal Fear-Mongering About a Government Slowdown
Over and over again, liberals have been fear-mongering about a government shutdown and lost benefit payments. First they argue that the Republican proposal would cut benefits to needy Americans. Then they try to blame Republicans for any government “shutdown.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked “homeless veterans,” claiming that the Republican proposal would toss them into the street. He said, “Republicans’ irresponsible approach would devastate millions of middle-class families and jeopardize our security.” What is irresponsible is when leaders try to scare seniors, veterans and the homeless into believing that the Republican proposal would terminate all of their benefits.
Liberals are trying to blame Republicans for the fact that they can’t pass a CR in the Senate they control. The fact is, even if the federal government can’t pass a CR to fund discretionary programs for the remainder of they year, services such as national security, foreign affairs and mandatory benefits will still continue to be funded. There won’t be a government shutdown, but a government slowdown. When the Congress “shut down” in 1995, government workers were paid back wages for all furloughed employees and only 20% of federal contracts were suspended.
Expect any government “shutdown” to be long on hysterical rhetoric and short in duration.
Muslim Extremism in America
Rep. Peter King (R.-N.Y.) showed leadership last week in fighting the forces of political correctness to convene the first of many hearings in the House Homeland Security Committee on the radicalization of Muslims in America. A Gallup Poll last week indicated that most Americans support Congressman King’s efforts. Peace-loving Muslims in America should embrace and support King’s efforts to shun and expel extremists who want to harm Americans and symbols of America.
The GAO has published a report on duplication in federal programs. The duplication ranges in issues from food safety to developing defenses against biological threats to the United States. If Congress were to take this report seriously, it could save the taxpayers billions.
As one example, take homelessness, an important issue to many in Congress. The GAO found that in 2009, federal agencies spent $2.9 billion on more than 20 programs targeted to address the various needs of the homeless. GAO reported in 2010 that seven federal agencies administer more than 20 programs that provide shelter or other housing assistance. Five agencies administer programs that deliver food and health services. This fragmentation leads to duplication and makes it difficult for the homeless to use these programs.
National Public Radio (NPR) made a strong case to be defunded last week. Journalist James O’Keefe captured a NPR official calling the Tea Party “racist, racist people.” This confirmed that there is a culture of hate at NPR for conservatives, yet members of the Tea Party movement are forced to contribute tax dollars to an organization that demonizes them. According to The Washington Post, NPR receives $2.4 million to spread a liberal message. That should end.
House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio) announced that the House counsel will defend the Defense of Marriage Act, legislation that prevents gay marriages from being forced on states that don’t recognize them. The White House and Justice Department backed away from the case and claimed that DOMA is unconstitutional. Expect this case to have a dramatic impact on the efforts of the left to use the federal courts to force gay marriage on states that refuse to recognize a marriage that isn’t between one man and one woman.
Brian Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in Human Events