Blue Dogs Assail Stop-Gap Spending Measure As ‘No Way to Govern’

November 19, 2019 by Dan McCue
The U.S. Capitol, Oct. 30, 2019. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON— The House passed a short-term spending bill Tuesday that would keep federal agencies running for another month, but at least one group of House Democrats, the Blue Dog Coalition, said having Congress “lurching from one self-imposed deadline to another is no way to govern.”

The spending bill was brought to the floor Tuesday in the hope that the additional time it provides will enable negotiators wrap up more than $1.4 trillion in unfinished appropriations bills.

The bill averts a Thanksgiving government shutdown but opens the door to a possible shutdown just before Christmas, on Dec 20.

It also ensures a 3.1% pay raise for active-duty military in 2020 and that the Census Bureau receives full funding for a fair and accurate 2020 Census.

The 231-192 vote sent the measure to the Senate, which is on track to pass the legislation in time to meet a midnight Thursday deadline. President Donald Trump has said he will sign it.

But Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., co-chair of fiscally-responsible Blue Dogs, said the day’s developments were not a sign of progress or a reason to celebrate.

“So far, the House has passed 10 bills to fund most of the federal government through the end of fiscal year 2020, and the Senate has passed four appropriations bills,” he said. “A lack of action by Congress has brought us to today’s Continuing Resolution, which is only a temporary fix to avoid an even worse result, a federal government shutdown.

“It is clear the only way Congress will be able to get its act together to do its most basic job—to pass a budget and all appropriations bills on time—is to enact a set of deterrents for bad behavior,” Correa continued. “House leadership should bring the Blue Dog-endorsed No Budget, No Pay Act and Government Shutdown Impact Report Act of 2019 to the floor for a vote. Americans deserve better and they deserve peace of mind that Congress will do its job and do it on time, just like they do every day.”

The month-long spending bill comes as negotiations on the full-year spending package have slowed to a crawl. Compounding the tensions on Capitol Hill are the ongoing impeachment proceedings, which are expected to stretch into December and are as seen as a major obstacle to the negotiations.

Another obstacle is Trump’s demand for up to $8.6 billion more for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

If neither of these and other issues can’t be overcome, Congress could be forced to fund the government for the entire budget year at current spending levels.

In a statement on the House floor, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said, “There is no reason in God’s green earth we cannot do the appropriations bills in a way that they ought to be done, except we lack the will to compromise.” 

“We lack the will to work together. We lack the will to do the American people’s business on time, rationally, and without creating a sense that this institution cannot and does not work,” he said. “I hope we use these days that are left between today and December 20 in a productive, effective way so that the appropriations process can be concluded on December 20 or before.”

“I hope in the days to come that we will all have such a sense of urgency that we owe it to the country, to our people, and to this institution to show the American people we can make it work. Let’s do it,” Hoyer said.

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