How to stop Harry Reid's "lame-duck looting session"

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is hoping to orchestrate a “carefully choreographed crisis” after the Nov. 6 election to force the GOP’s hand on spending and taxes, a trio of Republican senators warned today. They want help from their House colleagues to remove the threat of a government shutdown during the lame-duck session of Congress.

Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) expose the left’s strategy: Wait until the 11th hour and then pressure panicked members of Congress to act. It’s a tactic liberals have successfully used in the past and it’s part of Reid’s playbook for November and December.

Previous lame-duck sessions resulted in “gas tax hikes, congressional pay raises, debt limit increases, thousands of wasteful earmarks and trillions of dollars in new spending,” according to the GOP senators. They warn the consequences are even greater this year with the Bush-era tax cuts expiring, Medicare payments to doctors ending, sequestration looming and the debt-ceiling possibly rising.

That’s a combination of factors that will send the press into a panic and result in chaos on Capitol Hill. Add to that mix the possibility of a government shutdown and the nation’s capital will be facing the possibility of a “disastrous postelection looting of the taxpayer,” the senators warn.

DeMint, Graham and Johnson want their House GOP counterparts to act before the August recess to fund the government through early next year. That would avoid the threat of a government shutdown before Sept. 30 and leave it in the hands of a new Congress and, perhaps, a new president.

Reid, however, has other plans. He would prefer to punt the issue until September and then pass a measure that expires two months later during the lame-duck session, the senators write. That, they warn, opens the door to mischief:

During that time, under the gloomy cloud of yet another government shutdown, members of Congress who lose in the 2012 elections can freely vote to raise taxes, increase spending, pass international treaties, increase the debt limit and gut national defense. They will never have to answer to voters again.

These important issues should not be decided in panicked moments. And it would be a complete disservice to the public if we chose to let an old Congress, completely unaccountable to voters, determine the major issues of our day.

We cannot give Reid this chance. Let us repeat: House Republicans need to pass the plan to keep the government funded through 2013 before the August recess.

Once the House has acted, DeMint, Graham and Johnson said they would force a vote on the Senate floor. They also cite another benefit: House Republicans would have a message to take home to voters in August.

Two new reports out this week — one from the Aerospace Industries Association and the other from Ernst and Young — outline the economic consequences of congressional action (or inaction). How will lawmakers respond?

Rob Bluey directs the Center for Media and Public Policy, an investigative journalism operation at The Heritage Foundation. Follow him on Twitter: @RobertBluey

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David Strom 12:31 PM on December 08, 2022