If you've been following along, you would know that the federal government has only been funded through the next couple weeks and Congress must pass another continuing resolution or an omnibus spending bill before they leave town for the holidays to avoid a government shutdown.
It appears congressional Republicans will pass another continuing resolution, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is considering a lengthy extension that has major implications for the future.
According to the Huffington Post, McConnell wants to pass a resolution that will fund the government until next Summer.
Republicans looked apt last week to put forward a bill that would extend current government funding until March 31, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is now pushing for a continuing resolution that would go into May, these sources said.
“Discussions on length and content of a continuing appropriations resolution are ongoing,” Stephen Worley, a Republican spokesman for the Senate Appropriations Committee, told HuffPost Monday.
If a continuing resolution is used to fund the government until May of next year, that would effectively mean there is and was no budget for fiscal 2017. It would be as if fiscal 2017 never existed. The government is currently funded by a continuance of the fiscal 2016 budget which itself was nearly a carbon copy of fiscal 2015.
After accounting for the number of days of vacation on the congressional schedule, once we reach the month of May there will be a tight window of roughly three months for Congress to develop a budget for fiscal 2018, let alone the remainder of fiscal 2017.
Recent history tells us Republicans won't be able to do that even if they control both chambers of Congress because they already control both chambers of Congress and they were not able to advance their own bills this year. And in the upcoming session, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and McConnell will both have a narrower majority to work with.
A normal, well-functioning Congress (read: a Democratic Congress) would already be discussing Fiscal 2018 in March, not debating the remaining months of the previous year's non-existent budget.
It may sound sexy on paper or in a speech, but Republicans may not be able to repeal Obamacare and privatize Medicare in the narrow window of time they're setting themselves up for. Once you reach the fall months of next year, you edge closer to the 2018 midterm election season when privatizing Medicare or Social Security may not play well with your constituents. A budget passed next October would carry through to the next election. I mean, unless fiscal 2016 never ends.
It's not much comfort or consolation, but it's possible congressional Republicans are so incompetent and dysfunctional they won't find time to pass the totality of their own horrifying agenda.
It's bittersweet that the dysfunction of passing biennial budgets rather than annual budgets may actually reduce the amount of damage Republicans can do in the short term.
Despot-elect Donald Trump and his cabinet of cronies could do an enormous amount of damage on their own, but we're currently looking at the possibility that the government will be funded by a two-year-old budget (fiscal 2016) signed by President Obama until at least fiscal 2018.
If Republicans actually do manage to pass their agenda in such a short time frame, there's no way it won't be a complete fucking disaster. It's going to be a disaster either way, but it will be even worse if they rush through it. These are complex, delicate policies that require finesse.