Congress has two more weeks of work before they plan to leave town until after the election, but that hasn’t generated much bi-partisan effort to complete the spending bills prior to the government funding expiration September 30th. With none of the 12 spending bills having hit the president’s desk, debates over a “continuing resolution” (CR) the measure that will fund government into December continue. House Speaker Ryan (R-Wisc.) has opposed an “omnibus” spending bill saying “I hate omnibus bills and I don’t like doing these last-second bills.” The past history of massive omnibus spending bills has conservatives concerned. Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) who leads the Republican Study Committee said “The senate’s got to resolve the appropriations dysfunction that they’ve had.”
That’s because Senate lacks 60 votes to pass the 12 spending bills and even a longer term CR. So Senate Republicans are again engaged in a negotiation with Senate Democrats, led by out-going Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) to fund the government into December and add emergency spending for the mosquito born Zika virus. The sticking point is funding additional research on vaccinations for Zika, and funding for health care for those in affected areas, especially Puerto Rico and Florida, which could create additional pots of money for Planned Parenthood.
The House did pass a spending bill with the Zika funding in it, but Democrats’ shameless attempt to hold up funding intended to target mosquitoes, not babies, is evidenced by having three times blocked a bill just because it did not contain new money for Planned Parenthood.
Speaker Ryan corrected the media’s adoption of the Democrats false narrative saying: “First of all, there’s no Planned Parenthood [provision] in this bill, and to put an earmark for Planned Parenthood is something we won’t do.” Reid however announced they don’t yet have a deal yet, delaying a vote till Monday on any new CR/Zika deal. Pro-lifers have raised concerns over caving to the Democrats demands to provide additional funding to Planned Parenthood.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Senator Charles Grassley (R-Idaho) are seeking to block the Obama administration’s plan to shift oversight of the internet domain system over to the foreign-controlled Internet Corporations for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on October 1, and the Freedom Caucus led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has raised concerns over not funding the administration’s policy on Syrian refugees.
With so much at stake, and with 24 Senate Republicans running for re-election compared to 10 Democrats, Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) bleakly stated: “If I were a partisan Democrat I would want us to stay here until Election Day.” While that’s unlikely, Congress will continue to slug it out on the CR and these issues before getting out of town for what is shaping up to be one of the most important elections in our lifetime.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.