Roundup Reel: Week of Dec. 5

December 9, 2011 | By Adrianne Fielding | Post a Comment

(The Roundup Reel features some of the notable funding-related developments from the last week or so that you may have missed.) Hear that, Cinderella?  That’s the clock about to hit midnight – again. The big funding-related story out of Washington is that there’s too much to get done and not enough time to do it all.

Since Congress has only managed to pass a “minibus” with three of the appropriations bills for fiscal year 2012, the vast majority of the federal government has been funded since Oct. 1 through a series of short-term continuing resolutions.  The current CR is scheduled to expire on Friday, Dec. 16. While Congress has been scrambling to come up with something — anything — that can make it through both chambers before its winter recess, the only one that really seems to have a shot is a defense bill.

Part of the issue is that Congress put a lot of its eggs in the super committee’s basket, hoping that it would recommend a deficit-reduction plan that effectively dictated the federal agency cuts needed to make it happen.  In the face of the bipartisan panel’s crash and burn, the full Congress is back on the hook, and the jury is still out on whether that will result in another CR or a “megabus” that gloms together the unfinished spending bills.

The appropriations fights are being woven into a heavy slate of other policymaking targeted before Congress’ winter recess, including a major battle over whether to extend payroll tax cuts that are set to expire — and notably, over how those would be paid for.  With a sense of urgency over so many time-sensitive policies and programs that still hang in the balance, both chambers of Congress have floated bills that include some of their partisan wish-list initiatives.   Today’s attempt to wrap up some of the outstanding policy issues, for example, includes a controversial proposal regarding the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The calendar isn’t the only thing running out for Congress; it seems that the public’s patience is as well.  Three-quarters of the participants in a Gallup poll released today said that most members of Congress do not deserve be reelected. The only thing higher than that anti-incumbent sentiment — the highest in nearly two decades of Gallup asking about it — is the amount of finger-pointing in Washington over its gridlock.


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