It's a very (at least by Washington standards) snowy day in and around the beltway, so what better time than to demonstrate the extreme (bordering on the ultra) hypocrisy these days that exists when it comes to the federal budget. All of these seemingly unrelated events and announcements took place over the past four weeks.
In case you missed it, the FY2014 omnibus appropriation, which will keep the government funded through the September 30, that is, through the end of the fiscal year, passed the Senate yesterday 72-26. It was adopted by the House the day before 359 to 67.
Here are the five quick reasons why the votes were so big and bipartisan.
1. The GOP is still hurting from the October government shutdown. There's no doubt that the negative political repercussions from being blamed for this October's two-week shutdown is haunting House Republicans. As happened after the 1995-1996 shutdowns when congressional Republicans took it on the chin politically, the chances of a shutdown being threatened again any time soon are now significantly lower than they were several months ago and the omnibus was the first opportunity for the House GOP leadership to take advantage of this new sentiment.
Keep these things in mind if you're thinking about popping a cork or two to celebrate Congress passing an omnibus appropriation over the next week that will keep the federal government open for business through the rest of fiscal 2014:
This is the week when the-year-in-review stories start to be published.
I've always found those recaps to be largely irrelevant. If something significant happened this past year you likely already know or remember it without it being included on a top 10 list. And if you don't remember could it really have been that noteworthy?
Besides, when it comes to the federal budget, nothing that happened -- including the much-ballyhooed-but-actually-totally-inconsequential end-of-year deal -- was so important that it merits further discussion.
My overwhelming preference is to look at what's ahead rather than at what's already occurred. With that in mind, here are my top five budget predictions for 2014.
Don't believe what you may have heard elsewhere about the budget deal. Here's the truth.
Myth #1: This prevents another government shutdown.
The deal may make a shutdown less likely, but it absolutely doesn't prevent one from happening.
Shutdowns occur when there is a lapse in appropriations, that is, when an existing appropriation expires and no new appropriation is enacted to replace it. This deal raises the ceiling on the amount that may be appropriated, but it does not actually appropriate anything.
There still could be, or likely will be, a fight in January over the amount being spent and what it is being spent on when the widely expected omnibus appropriation is debated. The deal provides a ceiling on the amount that may be spent rather than a guarantee and some members of Congress will want to re-litigate the increase that was negotiated in this agreement. Others will threaten to vote against the omnibus because they disagree with the bill's priorities.
Myth #2: Congress has now passed a budget for the first time in years.