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The news from Capitol Hill might be alarming. Or not. It depends. On Tuesday, the GOP Congressional leadership — that would be Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy — met with their Democratic counterparts, and President Biden, at the White House. According to The Hill,
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday that there is “widespread agreement” among leaders in Washington about the need to pass an omnibus spending package next month, despite calls from conservatives to punt such decisions into next year…
McConnell and McCarthy agreeing on the need to pass an omnibus spending bill instead of a stopgap spending measure or continuing resolution that would freeze federal funding until next year is a significant development.
Saying that’s a “significant development” is an understatement. That would mean that the GOP leadership has just agreed to let the Democrats set the spending priorities for all of next year when Our Guys will be taking over the House in January. According to the Heritage Foundation, no incoming majority party has ever let that happen.
Before we put McConnell and McCarthy on blast over this, we need to remember that this is The Hill we’re talking about, and the job of The Hill is to tell its largely Democratic audience what they want to hear. Democrats love them some bipartisan cooperation, especially when it means the Republicans are giving them everything they want.
There are a lot of reasons not to do this. There are thousands of reasons in the IRS alone, where a re-written appropriations bill could zero out all those new IRS agents that the Democrats put in the last Spendapalooza they passed. There are also desirable changes that could be made in the funding for the Justice Department, which has taken to breaking knees on behalf of the Democratic Party instead of actual law enforcement. A lot of money is being spent on Ukraine; there hasn’t been much debate about it in our Congress.
It doesn’t appear that Kevin McCarthy has issued a definitive statement on this matter. He did, however, speak to reporters after leaving the White House where he said that he was not going to go along with “passing some bill in the middle of the night” that continues the pattern of runaway spending that we have seen. So that’s encouraging. For his part, Mitch McConnell alluded to “a variety of positions” within his caucus concerning whether to seek a continuing resolution or a longer deal.
The whole thing reminded me of jovial Joe Manchin smiling for the cameras and telling reporters that he “was hopeful a deal could be reached” and that “we continue to talk about specifics.” After some months of doing that, he’d vote “no.” He did that several times before the one time he didn’t.
And that’s what we have to worry about here. I’m fine with “Manchining” the reporters by telling them “we’re reaching across the aisle,” and “we are hopeful agreement can be reached,” just so long as at the end there isn’t a giant Spendapalooza full of the Democratic Party’s spending priorities. We never thought that would happen with Manchin, and then it did.
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