Now we know why Harry Reid never wanted any appropriations bills to come to the floor under normal order when he was Majority Leader.
Senate Democrats have vowed to filibuster every single appropriations bill that Republicans attempt to bring to the floor — that is, unless sequester spending caps in place since 2011 are rescinded.
“We will not vote to proceed to the Defense appropriations bill or any appropriations bills,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a press conference on June 4.
According to Politico.com’s Rachael Bade and John Bresnahan, “President Barack Obama and the Democrats want dollar-for-dollar funding boosts for domestic priorities like education and transportation programs, too — and they’re betting that gumming up the appropriations process will force the GOP to make a deal.”
Meanwhile, when Reid was Majority Leader since 2010 the government was running on continuing resolutions — which only came up once or twice a year.
This, in turn, narrowed the number of compromises Democrats would have to make in order to get spending measures onto President Barack Obama’s desk.
The one time Republicans got any major concessions at all was not even on a continuing resolution, but on the debt ceiling. That resulted in sequestration and spending caps in 2011.
Now, since Republicans have stated their desire to get all 12 appropriations bills onto Obama’s desk, this has created 12 new opportunities for Democrats to force 60 vote thresholds.
Meaning, 12 opportunities to extract concessions from Republicans desperate to prove they can govern.
In turn, the impasse increases the likelihood that none of the bills will actually wind up on Obama’s desk. That is, unless Republicans give concessions that upset their political base by breaking the spending caps.
It also makes an end of the fiscal year standoff more likely — and rolling everything into one big, negotiated omnibus or continuing resolution the most likely outcome.
Which is just fine with Democrats. They know the new Republican majorities will not go to the mat on a government shutdown.
Capitol Hill sources familiar with negotiations for the Fiscal Year 2015 so-called “Cromnibus” between House and Senate negotiators state Democrats had hundreds of appropriations riders to attach, but Republicans had far fewer.
This, despite passage by the House of 7 appropriations bills including 215 spending amendments last year that could have been the subject of negotiations between the House and the Senate.
Still, the starting point for negotiations will be House-passed spending bills, meaning the GOP needs to bring their conference’s policy riders to the table.
The open rules in the House then are the avenue to get Republican policies into the baseline spending bills, which will be considered for funding the government in negotiations in September should Senate Democrats prove intransigent.
Republicans got outplayed on the Cromnibus, and if things keep going the way they are on the appropriations bills, it will happen again. It’s time to get tough.
Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.
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