Congress Just Can’t Get the Budget Done

With the shortest duration at 21 days (FY 99) and the longest being 365 days (three times in nine years – FYs 07, 11, and 13), Continuing Resolutions have become the de facto form for Federal budgeting every year since fiscal 1997.  That was the last time Congress and the Administration managed to pass all of the appropriations measures before the start of the new Federal fiscal year (October 1).  It appears that we will be following the same pattern for FY 17 funding.  No one on Capitol Hill seems particularly upset by this.  The Senate plans to recess* this week so everyone can go home and campaign – despite the fact that only one third of them have seats to campaign for – and despite the fact that they just got back less than seven days ago from six weeks of “back home” efforts.  The House is in town but isn’t scheduling Friday or Monday votes this week and plans to delay any Floor votes until after 6:30PM on subsequent Mondays and not later than 3:00PM on remaining Fridays in this month.  The House also has planned “District Work Weeks” for the entire month of October and the first two weeks of November.  The Senate joins them in that plan.  It will only be in session October 4-7…otherwise, everyone will have gone home and won’t be back until after Veteran’s Day.  While this schedule may sound pretty good to those of us who have to compete with Congressional staff for seating space on the Metro or drive on horribly congested roads to get to work during morning or afternoon rush, it’s not a proactive way to meet the needs of our Federal agencies…or our own.
*Note:  The Senate has now decided to stay in town at least through Monday to try to resolve language in the CR related to Zika funding.  And, in fact, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) has admitted, “It’s pretty clear we’re going to be here next week. Any thought of adjourning early was irrational exuberance.”