ICYMI: Democrats Avoiding Spending Fights
In today’s Roll Call, Kathleen Hunter writes that, with mid-term elections approaching, Congress continues to play politics with serious fiscal issues.
Democrats, with a few exceptions, are the only ones submitting House earmark requests this year, which Republicans hope will strengthen their hand to portray the majority party as oblivious to deficit concerns.
The circumstances surrounding this year’s appropriations debate are unprecedented. Republicans, minus a handful of rogue lawmakers, are adhering to a self-imposed one-year ban on all earmark requests. That puts Democrats — who had hoped to snag the high ground on earmarks when they adopted a permanent ban on Congressionally directed spending to for-profit companies — in a potentially vulnerable position.
Republicans are eager to use Democrats’ earmark requests and spending proposals to try to paint the majority as fiscally irresponsible. Although Democrats dismiss the GOP earmark ban as an election-year gimmick, the fact that the Democrats would have almost exclusive ownership over earmarks during debate on this year’s bills is just one more reason they are treading carefully.
Democratic leaders, faced with spending fatigue within their moderate ranks, wrestled with whether to adopt a budget resolution, before settling on a one-year “budget-enforcement” document, which they only narrowly adopted before leaving town for the July Fourth recess.
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