Welcome to modern day governance in America!
In this brave new world. vital legislation need not be read, or considered, or debated. Isn’t it enough that the leaders say vote for it and be done with it?
The House approved the $1.1 trillion spending bill in near record time. The 1500 page bill contains all sorts of stuff that no one has a clue about because unless you’re a graduate of the Eveyln Wood speed reading course, you didn’t have much of a chance to study it.
So the 359-67 rout of the forces of prudence and common sense is understandable in the context that no one much cares where your money is going and little effort is made to deal with our spending crisis.
The three Democrats who voted « no » were Reps. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), Rush Holt (N.J.) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.), a centrist Democrat who is retiring at the end of this Congress.
Some Republicans were known to oppose the bill, given their opposition to restoring some of the sequester cuts, as was agreed to as part of the budget deal struck late last year. The bill allows discretionary spending to increase by $45 billion compared to the sequester.
« True, it adheres to the budget passed in December, but that’s nothing to brag about, » Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) said of the spending bill. « That budget destroyed the only meaningful constraint on federal spending that we had. »
McClintock and others were also upset at the rushed process that required the House to pass the bill after having just a few days to examine its 1,500 pages.
While most Democrats clearly preferred funding the government over risking a government shutdown, they also complained that the process needs to improve.
« This can be described very charitably as a mixed bag, » said Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.). « This is a 1,500-page bill that nobody has actually read. »
Yet the bill won even more support than the two-year budget deal it was based on. Ninety-four House members had voted against the budget deal.
Even conservative budget hawk Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), who had signaled he would vote against any bill based on the new budget, voted « yes. »
« When I ran for office in 2010, I told people that I wanted to roll back spending in Washington to 2008 [pre-stimulus] levels, » he said. « I even put that on my flyers. Today, I had the chance to do what I told people I would do if they elected me. »
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said he was surprised by the strong vote
« I’m almost giddy, » he said. « I think it’s a really good demonstration of trying to work across the aisle and across the dome. »
You may be « giddy » Mr. Congressman, but the rest of us want to throw up.
Bi-partisanship is a fine thing (as any RINO like me worth his salt could tell you). But approving $1 trillion in spending should be accompanied by some thought to where the money is going. What good is bi-partisanship if what you’re passing is a policy mistake?
It struck me today that prudence is a lost civic virtue – that substituting expediency for reasoned, thoughtful governance is a mistake that democracies don’t get to make. It’s the road to a rubber stamp legislature and the damage being done by both parties in passing massive legislation without a clue to the consequences they will bring or even specifics of what is in a particular bill, will be lasting and regretted in the long run.