Lame Duck session is the Wrong Response to the Election
November 29, 2016
This article appeared in The Hill on November 22, 2016
The 2016 Presidential election is officially over which means that it’s time for Congress and the President elect to get to work. When lawmakers return from their five-week election hiatus they will decide on passing a short-term or long-term spending bill and whether or not to have a lengthy lame-duck session of Congress.
As the end of the fiscal year approached in late September, Congressional leaders had to decide on how to keep funding the government before October; otherwise a shutdown would have occurred. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance and many other groups and individuals urged Congress to avoid a lame duck and fund the government past Christmas and into 2017. Lawmakers instead chose to pass a short-term spending bill to fund the government until Dec. 9, guaranteeing that Congress would have to return after the election in order to pass another bill to fund the government.
On Election Day, voters took to the polls and sent a clear message to politicians that they were fed up with the status quo. Americans don’t want another massive spending bill nobody will read, will be filled with earmarks, and passed in mere days with little or no time for the public to see what it contains. That is why it is important for Congress to avoid a lame duck session that will surely be filled with a laundry list of last minute giveaways to special interests. The only priority that Congress should be focused on is passing a clean bill that will provide funding to keep the lights on in Washington.
There has been talk of moving another large Omnibus spending bill before the year is over, but that is the worst thing that Congress could do right now. Over the last decade, standard operating procedure in Washington has been to run out the clock and pass these large spending bills. In addition to ruining everybody’s Christmas, the process is lazy and counterproductive to solving the deficit and debt problems. The results for taxpayers have been a disaster in the past giving way to billions of dollars in earmarks, tax increases, and bailouts.
Voters understand that doing more of the same irresponsible spending won’t eliminate the $19 trillion debt. Congress must understand the concerns that voters have and resist doing more of the same. Lawmakers must recognize that their priority is to protect taxpayers and moving another Omnibus will only put taxpayers at risk.
The real goal should be to make sure that the new Congress can work towards getting back to regular order, so the trend of continuing resolutions and Omnibus bills done in the final hours of deadlines will be a thing of the past. Getting back to regular order will provide a path to getting the appropriations process back under control. Getting appropriations bills passed and signed by the President will further enable the ability of Congress to do their job and pass a responsible budget that reduces spending in the near-term and lowers our debt over the long-term.
The House and Senate must spend the next few weeks working to pass a clean spending bill to fund the government that will provide enough time for Washington to head into a new year with a new Congress and a new administration.
Americans are not happy with the spending habits in Washington and they are not happy with business as usual. Voters spoke loudly on Nov. 8, and what they said was that they want change. Congress would be wise to listen.