After much hemming, hawing and belt-tightening, Congress finally unveiled their “pared-down” yearly budget, this year lovingly titled the “CRomnibus” because it is the product of the unholy union between a continuing resolution (CR) and an omnibus spending bill. The reason for the cute nickname is simple: the omnibus spending bill will keep the government funded through next September, when we have this same fight all over again. The continuing resolution will keep the Department of Homeland Security funded only until March, in the hopes that the Republicans can somehow pass an immigration bill that will keep Obama from declaring that everyone, including, but not limited to, various animals and inanimate objects, can obtain legal work permits.
While the two parties did spend much of last week cutting out unnecessary spending and negotiating the details of the bill in order to avoid a shutdown, the very best, lowest number they could come up with to keep the government rolling on is $1.1 trillion, because everything is terrible and we’ve lost all sense of reality.
The legislation is expected to pass in the coming days and will allow the incoming Republican-controlled Congress to clear the decks of lingering spending issues while setting the stage for a prolonged fight with President Obama over immigration policy.
At 1,603 pages, the bill includes at least $1.2 billion for agencies to deal with the influx of unaccompanied immigrant children who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. There’s also money to fight the rise of the Islamic State and $5.4 billion to fight the threat of Ebola. But there are also significant changes to campaign finance laws and potential cuts to retiree pension plans. Democrats were cheering bigger budgets for enforcement at agencies created after the 2008 economic collapse.
The magic of the CRomnibus is, that while it generally sucks all around, the only person who can shut the government down at this point is Barack Obama. And while he’s had quite the “let it burn” philosophy since suffering a crushing defeat in the midterm elections, vetoing the bill right before the Christmas holiday would ensure nothing but constant shutdown coverage, with only minimal interest from Congress in ending the standoff. The Obama Administration is masterful at engineering distractions for the media, but two weeks is a lot of airtime to fill. The President can only have so many sore throats and colonoscopies.
The other magical result of the CRomnibus is basically everyone hates it, which in DC, usually means you’ve hit upon a fairly decent solution. If anyone were happy about it, it would be time to worry.
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