Congress has avoided going over yet another fiscal cliff, with the House passing a “clean” debt limit bill yesterday, and Senate passage happened today. This marks the fourth major piece of bipartisan legislation passed since last October’s 16-day government shutdown that includes the two-year Ryan-Murray budget agreement, the FY14 omnibus appropriations bill, and the extension of the farm bill. Understanding the recent spate of bipartisan majorities on major legislation in the midst of what is arguably the most partisan Congress in recent history requires peeling back a layer or two, especially within the House Republican conference.
Looking forward, the President’s budget submission will be at least a month late this year because of the delay in passing the FY14 spending bills. Nonetheless, there’s every indication that the appropriations committees will get a significant head start on writing the FY15 bills, as there’s no need to wait for a congressional budget resolution to set the top line on discretionary spending, which is already set by Ryan-Murray. It’s been precisely 20 years since Congress passed all 12 appropriations bills prior to the start of the fiscal year. The 113th is on course to be the least productive Congress in history. While I’m not willing to wager anything at this point, wouldn’t it be interesting if they managed to pass all the spending bills this year?
This Director’s Desk appeared in the February 12, 2014 edition of GAI On The Hill.