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October 2, 2013

Does President Obama Understand Congress At All?

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Late yesterday, after House leaders said that their strategy will be to send separate appropriations bills to the Senate, President Obama derided the strategy as a "piecemeal approach" that he would veto as inadequate. Instead, he demanded a "clean CR" (continuing resolution) to fund the federal government.

This is truly stunning. The "piecemeal approach" President Obama dissed is regular order in Congress. The way Congress is supposed to operate is for thirteen separate appropriations bills to be debated, passed, and sent on to the other body. These thirteen separate bills fund the various departments of the federal government.

The recent practice of giving up on passing "approps" bills and simply continuing the funding of the federal government based on the current year's funding levels (plus a healthy increase until the genius sequester device came along) is a FAILURE of the process, not best practices.

So for the President to act like somehow the House is not doing its job because it's going to send along separate approps bills is just dishonest. A continuing resolution is a stopgap measure designed to keep the government functioning despite the failure of the House and Senate to do their jobs.

Now, of course, it's pretty late at this point to be passing approps bills, and as IPI's Dr. Merrill Matthews pointed out yesterday, the House's best chances to defund Obamacare would likely have come through following regular order and passing, months ago, the various approps bills, leaving the funding of Obamacare until the very last.

One terrible possible outcome from this experience would be for the idea of operating under regular order to become seen as an undesirable alternative to the preferred method of just passing a continuing resolution. Because, under a continuing resolution, there is no budget process. All programs just get locked into perpetual existence and funding.

Only through a normal, regular order process is there even the slight possibility of examining programs and defunding specific programs, cutting funding, etc.

So, whatever the outcome of this current government shutdown, let's get back to regular order and having Congress do its job.

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