House Appropriations Committee

The Latest Congressional Accomplishment (Take Five)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., pauses as he speaks about foreign policy during the John Hay Initiative, Monday, Sept. 28,2015, at a hotel in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Good news, everybody!

Or, well, you know. It’s Congress.

The House on Friday passed by voice vote a five-day continuing resolution to fund the government through Dec. 16, securing a little more time for congressional leaders and appropriators to finish negotiating an omnibus spending measure.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the five-day CR, which the Senate passed on Thursday.

(McPherson and Hallerman)

There are a couple of things here. To the one, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA23) called off weekend work because of the new CR, which is intended to give the Appropriations Committee more time to finish an omnibus bill; Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY05) is aiming for 14 December, with the House returning to session the next day. What could possibly go wrong?

To the other, this is Congress.

And this is a five day continuing resolution.

Yes, really. Five days.

____________________

Image note: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. (Detail of photo by Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

McPherson, Lindsey and Tamar Hallerman. “House Passes Five-Day Extension of Government Funding”. 218. Roll Call. 11 December 2015.

A Glimpse Inside the Strange World Known As the House of Representatives

Centrist gavels for House Appropriations subcommittees.There are, of course, dramatic interpretations waiting for the pundits to pounce, but four House Appropriations chair assignments last week include the sort of trivia that actually tell us a bit about how our government works. David Hawkings of Roll Call detailed some of the significant aspects of the four assignments brought on by two resignations and the passing of Rep. C.W. Bill Young (FL-13):

The altered assignments mean a changed membership for one-third of the group known all over Capitol Hill as the college of cardinals. The allusion to the power players of the Catholic Church is not only because of the significant unilateral power these chairmen have to reward or restrict federal agencies through subtle tugs on the federal purse strings. It also refers to their somewhat secretive code of conduct for rewarding colleagues in both parties who embrace the panel’s spending culture — and punishing those who don’t.

This latter code has frayed somewhat since earmarking became verboten and the GOP majority unified behind the goal of cutting the discretionary part of the budget that appropriators control. But it still remains solidly in force at the margins. And so — if a comprehensive omnibus spending package is going to be written to dictate spending for the 35 weeks after Jan. 15, when the current continuing resolution expires — the four new and repositioned chairmen, along with their eight colleagues, will each be called on to quickly bless hundreds of small trade-offs and compromises.

“Being an Appropriations cardinal is an incredibly important job with great responsibility,” said Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky, because lawmakers must be “responsible and pragmatic leaders who get the job done.” That’s a rare characteristic in the total-budget-breakdown era of the moment.

(more…)