House GOP abandons pledge to force agency-by-agency budgeting

posted at 2:15 pm on May 12, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Last December, I wrote hopefully about a pledge made by Speaker John Boehner on reforming the budget process in the House after winning control in the midterms.  Boehner said he would end the use of collating budgets into a dozen aggregated bills, headed by so-called “cardinals” in the lower chamber and promulgated by, er, “professional appropriators.”  Instead, the new Republican majority would write spending bills agency by agency, forcing each to justify their spending and making specific cuts in outlays more likely.

Five months later, that reform has apparently been abandoned, at least for now:

House Republicans have abandoned a campaign proposal by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to draft spending bills by agency instead of lumping Cabinet departments together in bulky appropriations measures.

Boehner issued the plan in a speech on congressional reform last September, but the Appropriations Committee says it received no instructions from the leadership to follow through with it.

As a result, the committee is plowing ahead with the traditional 12 large appropriations bills, confirmed in a schedule that the panel’s chairman, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), announced Wednesday afternoon.

Republicans say they will still provide some reform to the process by allowing open amendments for each of the 12 bills.  Jack Kingston, chair of the Agriculture subcommittee of Appropriations, also says that the delay over the FY2011 budget ate up the time needed to process the budget on an agency-by-agency basis, a position that one group, Taxpayers for Common Sense, accepted, according to The Hill.  However, Mike Simpson (R-ID) told The Hill that such a reform wouldn’t work anyway:

Another Appropriations cardinal, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Wyo.), said drafting separate bills for each agency “decreases the flexibility” for lawmakers because it would make it harder for members to shift funds between departments during an open amendment process on the floor.

“It would create havoc on the floor and it would take a lot more floor time,” Simpson said. “I can’t see the advantage.”

I don’t find it terribly surprising that one of the 12 “cardinals” would object to a more specific budgeting process.  The move would limit the ability to move funding around, as Simpson says, but that power would belong to Simpson himself, and to what purpose?  If the House properly budgets each agency, then there should be no need to “shift funds” at all.  If one agency has too much money, let’s cut it rather than find other places to spend money we don’t have.  That is, in fact, the specific reason this reform made sense.

TCS says we should give the GOP a Mulligan on this pledge for FY2012 because of the drawn-out battle over FY2011, and they may be right.  When it comes to the FY2013 budget, we’ll be watching again to see whether House Republicans take budgetary process reform seriously.

Update: Mike Simpson represents a CD in Idaho, not the lone seat from Wyoming.  The Hill’s report was the source of the error, for which I apologize.  Thanks to reader Connie P from, naturally, Wyoming!


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I wish republicans learned something from the the Dems. When the Dems win they totally shut out the Republicans and do whatever they want, popular or not(obamacare anyone?). When the Dems loose they claim “rights of the minority” and run the show anyways (remember the blocking of Bush’s court appointees for years on end?)

neuquenguy on May 12, 2011 at 5:15 PM

Jelly: I’m certainly not voting for any GOP candidate next year. Not as they are right now.

And if that allows Obama a second term, that’s going to be just too bad.

Scott H on May 12, 2011 at 5:18 PM

This has the smell of the Political Elite Ruling Class keeping the status quo and back room deals all over it…

… Listen to the American people, you say!

We can’t have THAT now, can we…?

Seven Percent Solution on May 12, 2011 at 5:19 PM

This is all about enabling politically motivated horse trading of spending. Spending Cuts, not so much…

Much of this gets back to the Budget Act of 1974 where Congress basically said if we appropriate it, the President has to spend it. The GOP House should attach a rule eliminating that rule so that the President could make (or not make) adjustments in agency spending to help balance the budget. If Obama just continues spending, it’s easier to make the point that the President is at fault for spending.

drfredc on May 12, 2011 at 5:28 PM

Either he is a total wimp or someone has something HUGE on him that can end his political career as fast as you can snap your fingers.

I mean I can’t understand why this pattern. That dishonors him amongst the party and OH. He’s a goner, I want someone else on that seat.

ProudPalinFan on May 12, 2011 at 5:56 PM

“House GOP abandons pledge…”

Why do I feel I will be seeing those four words way too often?
It is sickening, pathetic, cave on the budget, waffling on repeal of Obamacare, it just keeps on rear’in it’s ugly head…House GOP abandons pledge, in other words, “House GOP lied to constituents”.

right2bright on May 12, 2011 at 6:49 PM

How nice for you to have a conservative eye-candy to go visit. I have John Yarmuth, a short little lying douchebag weasel who wants to ban guns. He’s not even worth talking to.

fossten on May 12, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Posters of conservative eye candy. Noem still lives on the family ranch in the political off-season. I go bug her staffers at the local service office about five blocks from my apartment.

gryphon202 on May 12, 2011 at 6:50 PM

O.k…. a bit off topic.

I have been carefully watching the official debt clock:

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

for years now. Last month, at the rate that it was going, I figured that it would hit the debt ceiling for the US debt subject to the limit this last Monday or Tuesday. I have been watching and it looked as if it would hit it on one of those days as late as last week.

However, sometime late last week or this weekend, the clock has slowed to a crawl. It was at approximately $14,280,000,000,000 late last week and it is still there. It is moving up, but at a snail’s pace compared to how it was moving before.

What is going on? Is this the actual debt or isn’t it? How and why has it slowed to a crawl? I thought that we were/are spending a lot more money per day than the clock is currently implying.

The only thing that I can think of is that all of the agencies are no longer allowed to take money and are simply working within this years budget/reserves and that, when the already allocated and in their bank accounts (and, thus, from the government’s point of view – spent) money runs out, that is when everything will come to a halt. Is this the case?

Last week, I kept expecting to hear and read all sorts of stuff this week on the debt ceiling, but I am not. Can somebody please explain exactly what is going on in this regard to me?

Theophile on May 12, 2011 at 6:53 PM

DONT do it ! if you dont walk the talk, alot of people like me will walk away from the RNC!
Looking up the libertarian party.

ColdWarrior57 on May 12, 2011 at 7:33 PM

As a result, the committee is plowing ahead with the traditional 12 large appropriations bills, confirmed in a schedule that the panel’s chairman, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), announced Wednesday afternoon.

This is what is known as ‘bundling’ agencies together so as to make ‘oversight’ difficult. It is much easier to do ‘oversight’ when you make it so complex that you can’t follow where the money is being spent, so you slack off on your job.

Thus Rep. Rogers is saying their job is too hard.

Another Appropriations cardinal, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Wyo.), said drafting separate bills for each agency “decreases the flexibility” for lawmakers because it would make it harder for members to shift funds between departments during an open amendment process on the floor.

“It would create havoc on the floor and it would take a lot more floor time,” Simpson said. “I can’t see the advantage.”

When you have ‘flexibility’ to shift funds between agencies this is known as a ‘slush fund’.

That is then coupled with lack of ‘oversight’.

The shorter version is: It is much easier to do our job when we don’t do oversight and can just use a slush fund between agencies without going through proper appropriations procedures because our job is too hard.

Basically between now and 01 OCT 2011 they can’t figure out how to make budgets for individual agencies so as to conduct proper oversight on the budget so that agencies would have to request special funding appropriations later.

Remember, these asshats VOLUNTEER to do this job KNOWING how hard it is and then SLACK OFF at every opportunity to cut corners so they don’t have to do their JOB because that is hard WORK.

ajacksonian on May 12, 2011 at 7:42 PM

When is Speaker John Boehner going to fight?

RJL on May 12, 2011 at 8:41 PM

This has the smell of the Political Elite Ruling Class keeping the status quo and back room deals all over it…
… Listen to the American people, you say!
We can’t have THAT now, can we…?
Seven Percent Solution on May 12, 2011 at 5:19 PM

You scored the ‘UBL’ head shot 7%. All one needs to do is to go back and re-study the American Spectator piece by Codevilla, America’s Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution to know that what we have as you say the ‘back room deals all over it.’

There is so much political wrangling and posturing going on in the House right now that if it weren’t for a Allen West I’d throw my hands up and send it the fire and pitchforks. Our country is in terible shape and the damn Repubs are still forking everything up. Get rid of the old ‘elite class’ and a good amount of the problems will subside.

The unfortunate reality is that the big bucks do talk and all the other b.s. walks. The trick is to get it to work the way this republic was originally founded.

And the LSM is at it again with giving us the choices of who we should primary and then run against Barry. John McCain Part Deux.

auspatriotman on May 12, 2011 at 9:10 PM

Bew hew Boehner will cave. I’d like to ask him to please stop sending me letters – everyday – asking for $$.
RINO party is gone, to me.

LoneStarGal on May 12, 2011 at 9:32 PM

Speaker Boehner is SO not getting re-elected as speaker in 2012.

mathscience41 on May 12, 2011 at 10:03 PM

The whole freaking GOP is disappointing to me. I’m getting sick of them. All they have been good for is preventing the Democrats from beginning new bills only because of the fact they don’t have control.
But the GOP is just sitting on it’s freaking rear end and doing nothing. Democrats know how to use power and they wield it like a club!

The GOP is just sitting there doing absolutely nothing but talking, proposing and talking and proposing while occasionally being interrupted by Boehner crying. What a freaking waste!

JellyToast on May 12, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Right. The Republicans and the Democrats are the SAME PARTY. They are the same. They are the SAME. They ARE THE SAME. Say it with me!

Really, I think more people are starting to see the truth. If I repeat it, and you repeat it, and enough people repeat the truth, people will see the truth.

THEY ARE THE SAME PARTY. THEY ARE THE SAME PARTY. THEY ARE THE SAME PARTY. THEY ARE THE SAME PARTY. THEY ARE THE SAME PARTY. THEY ARE THE SAME PARTY. THEY ARE THE SAME PARTY. THEY ARE THE SAME PARTY. THEY ARE THE SAME PARTY. THEY ARE THE SAME PARTY. THEY ARE THE SAME PARTY. THEY ARE THE SAME PARTY. THEY ARE THE SAME PARTY.

Do y’all know home much money these folks make a year? Do you know what kind of benefits they get every year?

Republicans = Democrats = Political Class = Ruling Class.
Republicans = Democrats = Political Class = Ruling Class.
Republicans = Democrats = Political Class = Ruling Class.
Republicans = Democrats = Political Class = Ruling Class.
Republicans = Democrats = Political Class = Ruling Class.
Republicans = Democrats = Political Class = Ruling Class.
Republicans = Democrats = Political Class = Ruling Class.
Republicans = Democrats = Political Class = Ruling Class.

j_galt on May 12, 2011 at 10:15 PM

The GOP will betray you

True_King on May 12, 2011 at 10:30 PM

No one REALLY expected them to do what they promised…why, that would be…umm…honest!

JIMV on May 12, 2011 at 11:21 PM

lets call the republicans CINO’s, conservatives in name only.
see no spending, see no cutting, see no tax breaks, see no jobs “saved or created,” see no difference in party affiliation.

mydogwonthunt on May 13, 2011 at 12:42 AM

The first thing I thought when I read the headline was “Pu$$Y.”

On the subject of third parties I think the libertarians do not stand a chance. A poltical party is alot of work and the ideology of libertarians does not lend itself to such organazation. For the party to be viable they would have to start winning elections locally then work their way up. That just aint happenin’. But Boenher seems bound and determine to create an atmosphere in which a full fledged Libertarian can win in Congress…

Theworldisnotenough on May 13, 2011 at 1:21 AM

Boenher is not a warrior, Nancy Pelosi is.

Democrats will take any and every opportunity given to move the goals posts. The crushing defeat did not phase her one bit. She knows that one day she will have another opportunity. Boenher is more concerned with holdsing onto power. The right side of the political spectrum can feel it. That is why we do not trust the GOP machine. And why candidates like Herman Cain and Chris Christie generate so much excitement. We actually beleive them, we can tell that trhey believe what they are saying. No games, no BS, just the truth

Theworldisnotenough on May 13, 2011 at 1:24 AM

neuquenguy on May 12, 2011 at 5:15 PM

very good point

cmsinaz on May 13, 2011 at 7:29 AM

Theophile on May 12, 2011 at 6:53 PM

I don’t know. That’s an interesting question. The whole debt ceiling issue seems to have gone away and the question is WHY?

piglet on May 13, 2011 at 7:48 AM

Alan West and Rand Paul are the only hope I have for Congress.

piglet on May 13, 2011 at 7:49 AM

Gotta move that money around to keep the current level of spending or more spending happening. How else can they keep their payoffs going.

Kissmygrits on May 13, 2011 at 10:42 AM

Ha Ha Ha!! The Republican Party LIES once again to it’s base!

Boehner issued the plan in a speech on congressional reform last September, but the Appropriations Committee says it received no instructions from the leadership to follow through with it.

No one held a gun to his head to make this pledge – yet he did – and didn’t follow through with it. Hell – he never even intended to follow through with it!!

Republicans have become the Dimmocrits! Say “anything” and don’t worry about the consequences when you get caught being dishonest!!

I just love this – can you imagine what would have happened if we’d taken back the Senate? Two impotent houses making promises and not delivering would have been the end to the GOP!

We can only hope they continue this meltdown – faster they crash – the quicker the grassroots can kick the Ruling Class out of office and pick up the pieces of the emasculated party of eunuchs.

HondaV65 on May 13, 2011 at 10:42 AM

I am through with voting for people who do not keep their promises.

Jewels on May 13, 2011 at 11:45 AM

Ed used to have better sense, but the long association with AP has obviously destroyed much of his brain.

Ace and Allah, of course, would always get their panties wadded over this stupid stuff.

It was a dumb thing to promise, as reforms go, and wouldn’t really accomplish anything in and of itself. Crafting a budget for the world’s largest operation, the US federal government, takes time and is difficult and detailed work, which explains why Democrats have been too lazy and stupid to get one done.

Republicans took over at a point in the cycle where the process for FY 2012 should have been well under way, but of course it not only was sitting on the shelf covered with Pelosi-dust (as was King Tut when they found him back in the day), but the current FY was still pending. So the arguing over the CR for the rest of FY 2011 took up a bunch of the time which was already short for FY 2012, making implementing time-consuming changes to the process just not practical for the budget on the table, if they would be at all.

But, instead of rational consideration, you go off half-cocked wailing and whining in the best AP/AoS tradition, inflaming the passions of the readers dull-witted enough to accept whatever you spew at face value.

Hell, who needs credibility anyway, right?

Adjoran on May 13, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Established Republicans remind me of the old joke, “Hare today, gnome tomorrow.”

Looks like it will take a bigger stick to beat some sense into them.

Roy Rogers on May 13, 2011 at 3:01 PM

We can only hope they continue this meltdown – faster they crash – the quicker the grassroots can kick the Ruling Class out of office and pick up the pieces of the emasculated party of eunuchs.

HondaV65 on May 13, 2011 at 10:42 AM

Speaking of eunuchs, how’s Captain Kickass doing in the percentage of Americans who like the job he’s doing on the economy?

ROFL!!!

Roy Rogers on May 13, 2011 at 3:03 PM

OK, any Republican who has been in office before the last election is in real danger of be tossed. The GOB’s might love you but they do not run the Republican Party any more. The Republican Party is going back to the party of small Government, respect for the rule of Law, and the United States Constitution.

I urge the Democrats to take a serious look at what is happening in YOUR party as well. There is no longer a Democrat Party, it is now the Socialist Party they just have not changed the name. I know plenty of Democrats who are not Socialist but have been led to believe the Media, CNN, MSNBC, CBS and others that Fox news and Conservatives are Racist, hate children, animals, want the world to succumb to Global Warming, and all old people to die. They also say we are mostly old white men so I am not sure how they justify the wanting old people to die.

Americans, look at your Country. Is it what you want it to be? Is it providing for it citizens the things it used to provide, Freedom? Are you as well off now as you were ten or twenty years ago? Have you noticed that the main thing coming out of Washington D.C. is finger pointing and excuses? Are you tired of it? Then stop being Democrats, Republicans, Independents,White, Hispanic, Black, African and lets all be AMERICANS

old war horse on May 13, 2011 at 8:44 PM

OK, any Republican who has been in office before the last election is in real danger of be tossed. The GOB’s might love you but they do not run the Republican Party any more. The Republican Party is going back to the party of small Government, respect for the rule of Law, and the United States Constitution.

I urge the Democrats to take a serious look at what is happening in YOUR party as well. There is no longer a Democrat Party, it is now the Socialist Party they just have not changed the name. I know plenty of Democrats who are not Socialist but have been led to believe the Media, CNN, MSNBC, CBS and others that Fox news and Conservatives are Racist, hate children, animals, want the world to succumb to Global Warming, and all old people to die. They also say we are mostly old white men so I am not sure how they justify the wanting old people to die.

Americans, look at your Country. Is it what you want it to be? Is it providing for it citizens the things it used to provide, Freedom? Are you as well off now as you were ten or twenty years ago? Have you noticed that the main thing coming out of Washington D.C. is finger pointing and excuses? Are you tired of it? Then stop being Democrats, Republicans, Independents,White, Hispanic, Black, African and lets all be AMERICANS again. All of us have rich heritages and customs, lets not forget them but lets blend them and make a unique American Culture. Let’s put other AMERICANS in office in Washington and take the United States back to where it was before the Politations screwed it all up.

old war horse on May 13, 2011 at 8:48 PM

How about we just vote out the people who forgot who is REALLY in charge?

Roy Rogers on May 13, 2011 at 8:54 PM

How come Boehner never cries about stupid decisions HE makes?

infidel4life on May 14, 2011 at 2:49 AM

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