Congress

Republicans Might Skip Passing a Budget. Again.

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Given that we're eight days away from a possible government shutdown, again, this report feels timely.

Politico reports that Republicans probably won't even attempt to pass a comprehensive budget this year for several reasons and Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) believes they may not even have the votes for a budget resolution.

White House and Hill GOP leaders discussed the possibility of forgoing the painful budget process during last weekend’s Camp David legislative summit, according to four sources familiar with the talks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has argued that he cannot pass controversial deficit-reduction legislation using powerful budget procedures with his new 51-vote majority — and wasn’t even sure he could find the votes for a fiscal blueprint in the first place.

This may seem like an arcane process that average Americans don't give two shits about, but this is one to watch because if they abandon the budget and don't even pass a budget resolution, the rest of their agenda for the year is dead.

Paul Ryan can wish in one hand and shit in the other if they don't pass a budget resolution. Using the reconciliation process to bypass a filibuster and pass a bill to cut Medicare or Medicaid with a simple majority requires the passage of a resolution. They also wouldn't be able to pass Trump's fake infrastructure plan with a simple majority of GOP votes if it's not included in a budget resolution.

I've said Republicans only have a few months to do whatever they're going to do before the midterm election gets in the way, but they may not even have that long.

I think everyone expects Congress will pass yet another continuing resolution for the third time in the past four months to avoid a government shutdown next week, but what happens after that remains to be seen.

As you may know, if Republicans don't pass a budget this year, that means we'll effectively enter the midterm election under an Obama-era budget. I don't think anyone expects Congress will pass a budget for fiscal 2019 by September if they can't pass one in February for what remains of fiscal 2018 so we should expect to see a series of continuing resolutions that carry us into fiscal 2019, which begins on October 1st, and probably the year 2019 if the GOP congress becomes a lame duck.

The last time Republicans actually attempted to complete the appropriations process in was all the way back in 2015. As you may recall, Republicans never completed the process in 2015 because Democrats forced a vote on the display of Confederate flags at federal cemeteries. That was the last time they tried to pass a comprehensive budget.

I don't want to get too carried away, but if Republicans maintain control of either chamber, or if Trump refuses to sign bills passed by Democrats, we could still be on an Obama-era budget in 2020 at the end of Trump's first term.

That sounds absurd, and it is, but it feels entirely plausible.

  • fry1laurie

    Always telling us government needs to run like a business, then can’t do the one thing businesses need to project growth and revenue for the year. This, ironically, shows that government is NOT a business after all.

  • muselet

    Mitch McConnell lacks the skills to corral his conference.

    Paul Ryan can’t afford—you should pardon the expression—to offend the various Visigoths in his conference who are testing their knives’ edges while eyeing Ryan’s neck.

    So there likely will be yet another continuing resolution passed instead of a budget.

    Hell of a way to run a country.

    –alopecia

    • You’re right, it’s a hell of a way to run it right into the ground

  • ninjaf

    I would bet if they become a lame duck Congress, they will slash the budget to the bone and burn it all down on their way out the door. They will no longer be bound by the fear of losing the next election, because “the worst case scenario” will already have happened to them.