House Republicans, in their final days at work before taking a five-week vacation, have come out with a new agenda: “Stop Government Abuse.”
A more candid slogan might be: “Stop Government.”
This is traditionally one of the busiest weeks of the year, when the House rushes to complete the dozen annual spending bills so that the Senate can pass them before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. But there is no hurry this time. Instead of taking the lead on spending bills as the House traditionally does, lawmakers are instead proceeding with bills such as one “guaranteeing a citizen’s right to record conversations with federal regulators.”
That legal protection for recording devices might be a fine idea. But the real “government abuse” is what the House itself is doing: Only four of the 12appropriations bills have cleared the chamber as of this writing. And because the House plans to be in session just nine days in September, that guarantees that government finances won’t be in order in time for the new fiscal year.
House Republicans aren’t even trying to get the job done — which would seem to confirm the suspicion that they are precipitating a crisis.
The budget and appropriations processes have been a mess in recent years under both parties’ control, and there was no expectation this year would be different. But this time the slow walk serves conservatives’ singular purpose of undermining Obamacare. Because the appropriations won’t be completed by Oct. 1, Congress will have to pass a temporary extension, or “continuing resolution.” This kitchen-sink measure gives House Republicans the power to shut down the federal government if President Barack Obama doesn’t agree to their demands — particularly the repeal of health care reform.
On Monday, leaders of influential conservative groups such as the Club for Growth, Heritage Action, Family Research Council, FreedomWorks and Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to House leaders begging for a donnybrook. “The best and last chance for House Republicans to stand up and thwart this law before its new entitlements kick in is during the upcoming funding debate,” they wrote, “and the House should live up to the moment and pass a bill funding the government but denying any funding for Obamacare.”