POLITICO: "Lawmakers face $1 trillion decision"

November 12, 2010

As Congress’ “lame duck” legislative session nears, discussion of its challenges, and speculation about its likely outcomes, is ramping up. Today’s POLITICO takes a look at the conundrum of funding the federal government in FY2011 in “Lawmakers face $1 trillion decision.

Below is an excerpt; please click here to read the entire article.

Amid voter anger over spending – and in the shadow of a punishing election for Democrats – congressional leaders are struggling to perform their most basic duty: funding the government.

None of the options ahead are politically appetizing: one big trillion-dollar-plus “omnibus” bill to cover the rest of the fiscal year; a yearlong continuing resolution (CR) that would keep government agencies funded at their current levels, or a short-term resolution that would punt everything to the new Congress – and the new GOP House majority. Since Congress has failed to clear any of the 12 annual appropriations bills, any option lawmakers choose now will come with an eye-popping cost as they try to fund everything from defense operations to student loans.

The debate on how to proceed has several battle lines: establishment appropriators versus the new anti-spending crusaders, Democrats versus Republicans and the Senate versus the House in a lame-duck battle to define national priorities for the next 10 months. And even though there may be little appetite among returning lawmakers to stick taxpayers with another big price tag after an election heavily colored by fury over the growing national debt, they still have to do something.

But they won’t do anything until they figure out what the Senate can get done. Already, aides say, there won’t be a resolution before Thanksgiving, putting them up against a Dec. 3 deadline when the current continuing resolution expires.

At the same time, senators and House lawmakers will be itching to adjourn for the year, and have a laundry list of other measures, including an extension of unemployment insurance, an extension of Bush-era tax cuts and a major defense policy bill.

Check back with Bankrupting America on Monday for a Fiscal Cheat Sheet breaking down the lame duck.

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