In a recent display of fiscal responsibility, the US Senate approved a 45-day continuing resolution, effectively averting a government shutdown that loomed like a dark cloud over the Biden administration. This move ratified swiftly following the House’s decision, was signed into law by President Joe Biden late Saturday night, just before the midnight deadline. The 88-9 vote showcased a rare moment of bipartisan support. However, it’s worth noting that the bill fell short of including the additional $6.15 billion in aid for Ukraine, a provision many senators had advocated for.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was quick to laud the bipartisanship that carried the bill to fruition. However, it’s evident that this temporary fix merely postpones the inevitable discussion surrounding the appropriations process, a bone of contention between the two parties.
The continuing resolution (CR) extends federal funding at the current rate for 45 days, encompassing funds for disaster relief and a reauthorization of Federal Aviation Authority funding. The exclusion of additional financing of Ukraine’s war effort threatened to derail the bill. Still, senators concurred that this funding could be allocated through other legislative avenues.
This compromise momentarily alleviates the threat of a government shutdown yet fails to address the underlying issue of appropriations process discord. The measure, hastily assembled by House Republicans, emerged as a fallback plan after their preferred CR was scuttled by members of their party the previous day.
The initial CR, presented by Mr. McCarthy, proposed a 31-day extension with an 8 percent reduction in non-defense discretionary spending, coupled with a package of border security provisions. However, this bill faced opposition as 21 Republicans joined Democrats in voting against it. The revised CR, which eventually passed in the House and then the Senate, drew even more resistance from House Republicans, with 90 voting against it. It only passed with the overwhelming support of House Democrats, showcasing yet again the fiscal irresponsibility that has become synonymous with the Democratic party.
Authorizing government spending is a congressional prerogative executed through annual appropriations bills. With the fiscal year ending on September 30, the spending authority expires on that day unless new spending has been authorized. The recurring threats of government shutdowns, driven by party leadership demands for specific spending or tax-cut initiatives, have resulted in 10 government shutdowns since 1981, most lasting only a few days.
The term “shutdown” is somewhat misleading as only non-essential government functions are suspended. However, any shutdown is costly and disruptive, a fact both Republican and Democratic leaders are well aware of. This time, the brinkmanship was fueled by rank-and-file members of the House in a dispute over the appropriations process, not over specific spending demands.
The CR’s passage, albeit temporary, highlights the fiscal disarray under the Biden administration. It underscores the Democrats’ inability to steer the nation clear of financial turmoil, instead resorting to short-term fixes that kick the can down the road. As the CR expiration date of November 17 looms, it’s imperative that our leaders, particularly those on the Democratic side, prioritize a robust, long-term financial strategy over partisan politics to ensure the nation’s economic stability and prosperity.