They’re baaaaaaaack. Well, for a little while, anyways. Congress reconvened in D.C. on Monday after a month away, but it looks like we’re only in for a short, pre-election agenda before our elected officials return to their districts to continue with their own campaigns. I won’t hold my breath for any meaningful action on the sequestration defense cuts, the looming tax hikes coming after the New Year, or — oh, you know — our trillion-dollar federal deficit — before November. I think we’re in for just the bare minimum it will take to prevent the federal government from shutting down, whoop-de-doo:
Top lawmakers hoped to unveil a six-month spending bill later Monday that would finance the government’s day-to-day operations until next March to give the next Congress and whomever occupied the White House time to work out a final solution on more than $1 trillion in annual spending for the Pentagon and other Cabinet departments.
Typically such temporary funding bills, known in Washington parlance as continuing resolutions, or CRs, freeze spending at current levels. But the measure expected to be unveiled Monday actually allows for a less than 1 percent increase to every program to keep pace with a slight increase in spending permitted by “caps” set by last summer’s hard-fought budget and debt accord.
The 2012 budget year ends on Sept. 30. But not a single one of the 12 annual agency appropriations bills has become law, requiring lawmakers to step in with the stopgap funding measure to avoid a disastrous partial shutdown of the government.
The House is scheduled to work for just eight days this month, and the Senate around a dozen. Says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:
Reid said the Senate will have a “short and compact” schedule this fall, but that it can conclude a lot of work in that time frame.
He spoke amid speculation that the Senate could finish its work next week to allow senators to return to their home districts to campaign for the rest of the fall.
Food stamps and the farm bill are also potential areas for making moves, but who knows how they’ll fare, what with all of that deplorable partisan gridlock going on. The GOP-controlled House is all set to pass the “No More Solyndras Act,” while the Democrat majority in the Senate will likely pass a Veterans Jobs Corps initiative from President Obama’s erstwhile Congressional “to-do” list, but neither will make it through the opposing chamber. Nope, the must-pass continuing resolution is likely to be among the only major legislation that’ll happen over the next couple of weeks before it’s back to the campaign grind. ‘Cause hey, who cares about that silly little “fiscal cliff” set to tear into our already-struggling economy anyways, right? Surely, that stuff can wait.