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Congress Must Do Its
Constitutional Duty
on Funding!
Bill Sargent for Congress; Columnist for the Galveston County Daily News and Former Chief Deputy Clerk for Elections in Galveston County

From May 2013 through August 2017 Bill was one of three former candidates who ran for Congress in the 2012 Republican Primary Election and then started writing a weekly column on currrent events for the Galveston County Daily News.

August 25, 2017

When Congress comes back into session after their five week recess it will be facing a number of issues.  The news headlines talk about repealing Obamacare, tax reform and infrastructure funding; but there is a constitutional requirement that will loom front and center.  It’s called funding the federal government!
In order to avoid a government shutdown the Congress must act before October 1st.  When they come back to work on September 5th the House is scheduled to have twelve legislative days --  and the Senate seventeen -- during which they must complete this constitutional duty.

So let’s look at where the appropriation process stood when Congress started its five week long August recess.  The House had passed only one of these measures – funding the Department of Defense.  There were eleven others that were awaiting action.  Eight of these eleven were reported out of the House Appropriations Committee a week or two prior to the Congress leaving Washington for five weeks off.  
Over in the Senate only six of the twelve appropriation bills have been reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee and none of the twelve have been considered on the floor, let alone passed.
So what does this mean?  In all likelihood the U.S. Congress will not have time to consider each appropriation bill on its own merits, vetting each, and deciding whether to fund the various federal agencies and at what level. 

It also means that we are facing, yet another, continuing resolution.  By and large, continuing resolutions are a last minute stop-gap solution to keeping the government open.  In general they say to the executive branch you can keep in operation at the same levels as the previous year and they tend to lack the detailed vetting an appropriation bill would receive.   In the past, continuing resolutions have fully funded Obamacare and have given millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood.  With the alternative being a government shutdown, many Congressmen and Senators have voted for such measures.

But the underlying question remains.  Why isn’t the Congress doing its job?  It seems utterly unable to govern.  How can NASA make decisions on the Orion spacecraft project without knowing how much funding it will have?  How can the Air Force plan for revitalizing its fleet of aircraft if it doesn’t know what is being appropriated?  Good planning rests on the knowledge of what resources one has to work with!  Those in Congressional leadership need to keep their eye on the ball and learn how to plan ahead and get these bills considered in a timely manner. 

In a perfect world the House and Senate Appropriations Committees would have all twelve bills reported to the floor before heading home for a July 4th vacation.  This would give both houses of Congress the ability to get these important constitutionally mandated measures passed without having to result to last minute stop gap measures. Unfortunately it seems that we are stuck with politics as usual!