There seems to be a general consensus that Republicans will retake the Senate in next Tuesday night’s election. If that is the case, they won’t retake the reins of power until early in January of 2015, giving the Senate Democrats one last gasp at legislating during the forthcoming lame duck session. There are a number of terrible ideas being floated for the lame duck, but the one I want to discuss today is the idea of “clearing the decks” so that Congress can start fresh in 2015.
Currently there is a continuing resolution in effect that funds the government until December 11th. There are rumblings that Congressional leadership, both Republicans and Democrats in both chambers, wants to pass a long term funding bill that funds the government through next fall. If next Tuesday night’s election results hand the Senate over to Republicans, conservatives need to resist this approach vigorously.
First, the obvious reason is that all manner of retired and defeated members will be voting on extremely important issues. Even the fine folks who wrote The West Wing understood how problematic this is.Lame duck Congressman and Senators could be voting on numerous nominees, internet taxation, funding for Obamacare and amnesty for illegal aliens and voting contrary to the people who just turned them out of office.
This brings me to my second and more important point. The funding bill.
Leadership wants to “clear the decks” (by that they mean pass all the major legislation and nominees sitting before Congress) so that they can start off the new Congress focusing on their priorities. Their priorities are much more likely to reflect the priorities of Wall Street and K Street than Main Street. The first thing they want to get out of the way is the controversy surrounding funding Obamacare and the President’s illegal amnesty. And by get out of the way I mean fund Obamacare and amnesty.
Congress – and the House of Representatives in particular – holds the purse strings, without which the President cannot implement his agenda. If Congress does not fund an activity, then the Executive Branch cannot implement it. Further if Congress affirmatively acts to restrict funding for an activity, the Administration’s hands are similarly tied. Congress knows exactly how to limit funding for Obamacare – they have done it in the past – and candidates are pledging to do it on the campaign trail at this moment.
At the same time, the American people want Congress to defund President Obama’s lawless amnesty program for illegal immigrant children – often known as DACA. If media reports are correct, by the time the lame duck begins, President Obama will have issued an even broader amnesty for adult illegal aliens. The only way to stop this will be to turn off the funding for the President’s amnesty.
But if the Congressional leadership “clears the decks” in November the opportunity to include riders to block amnesty and defund Obamacare evaporates until next fall. By the time we get back to appropriations bills the amnesty program will be well underway and much harder to undo.
If candidates are serious about opposing Obamacare and Executive amnesty, they need to pass a very short-term Continuing Resolution in November that only funds the government until January, so that the Republican House and Senate can come back and include the important Obamacare and amnesty defunding provisions they promised the American people.
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