This post originally appeared at the Institute to Reduce Spending.
The long-awaited Presidential debate season kicks off tonight as Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump squares off against the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. The debate will take place at 9:00 PM at Hofstra University in New York, where both candidates have ties — it is where Trump currently lives and where Clinton was a two-term Senator.
Some pundits wonder about Trump’s temperament, while others question if Clinton has a viable plan for the economy and jobs. Tonight is an opportunity to finally see the candidates side-by-side and compare where they stand on the issues.
This will be the first of three Presidential debates in addition to a Vice Presidential showdown happening on October 4th.
Logistically, the debate will be 90 minutes with no breaks, where topics are divided into 6 time segments with a 15-minute time frame for each. The moderator will start with a question that each nominee will respond to and then they will be able to respond to each other’s comments. The topics for the debate include “America’s direction” and “achieving prosperity and securing America.”
With satisfaction of the two parties’ nominees at the lowest point since the early 90’s, both candidates must do their best tonight to appeal to those on the fence. Fiscal conservatives should be on the lookout for an issue that has thus far been neglected: America’s soaring debt and spending. With Election Day now just about 6 weeks out, both candidates will be looking at tonight as an opportunity to pull ahead and eventually earn the title: President of the United States. Those who care about the debt and spending should be on the lookout to see if our next President will have concrete goals for getting our fiscal house in order.
Via Institute to Reduce Spending:
Chairman Bill Flores (R-TX) of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) initiated the first move toward a government funding bill on Tuesday by filing a continuing resolution – something the Senate has had trouble with thus far. In a press release yesterday, Chairman Flores explained his reasoning behind introducing the legislation by stating, “rather than continuing to allow the Senate to wallow in the misery of Harry Reid’s hostage taking and ever-moving goalposts, the House, by acting first, can stop the uncertainty coming out of Washington today.”
The short-term continuing resolution—H.R. 6071—includes a few details that the House Republicans are adamant about implementing. First, it would enact the Zika Response and Preparedness Act, but the funding would not go to Planned Parenthood, a key provision Democrats have been fighting for. The bill also would stop Obama’s push to transition control of the Internet toICANN as well as implement a strict vetting process for refugees coming from countries dominated by terrorist groups. H.R. 6071 would also not reinstate the Export-Import Bank—another provision that has been discussed.
This move by the House is in response to Senate actions last night, when Senators cast a vote to proceed with a continuing resolution – without any actual text of that CR ready. Now that the House has done what they can to try to fund the government, the pressure is now on the Senate to try and come to an agreement—something that must be done in the next 9 days in order to avoid a government shutdown.
This fall, politicians are locked in a relatively predictable battle over funding the government. Since they still find themselves unable to follow the regular budget process, the fight instead is primarily about the form and content of a continuing resolution (CR) that will provide temporary funding so the government doesn’t shut down.
Members have been facing off on various issues— from the length of time the stop-gap measure will be active for, to whether Congress will block Zika funding from going to Planned Parenthood — with few conflicts reaching consensus even as the deadline looms.
That’s why it was strange, to say the least, when the Senate voted yesterday to proceed to a vote on a continuing resolution. Particularly in the Senate, procedural votes are often just as consequential for policy as final roll-call votes. To see a vote to proceed being taken before text — or even clear indication of what the text might include — exists is an unsettling development for anyone who cares about responsibility and fiscal sanity.
Writing today in Rare, CRS President Jonathan Bydlak explains what Congress is up to with the latest spending standoff:
Presidential politics might be capturing attention and headlines, but in an unsurprising twist, the biggest standoff affecting taxpayers is quietly happening right now in Washington. There are less than three weeks left before the end of fiscal year 2016, and Congress has to move quickly to pass funding for next year and avoid a government shutdown.
This standoff is occurring primarily because Congress cannot pass a budget and then all 12 appropriations bills individually. In fact, this process hasn’t been completed since 1994. What has happened instead is Congress usually passes either an omnibus (rolling the spending bills together into a package) or a continuing resolution (keeping funding at its current levels) or some ghastly combination of the two, right before the deadline.
Read the full piece here.
With about three weeks left until the end of the fiscal year, Congress is still at odds over how to fund the government. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently came out in support of a short-term continuing resolution that would continue last year’s spending levels into December 9th. McConnell has come to expect disagreement from his colleagues in the House; however, the Majority Leader may also face internal opposition in the Senate from Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) who would prefer a CR that would go into the new year.
Senate Democrats seem to be siding with McConnell, as Minorty Leader Harry Reid and the White House have already began the first step of bipartisan budgetary discussions. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also supports a short-term CR, citing specific concerns over fighting the spread of Zika.
Pelosi would support the Senate’s $1.1 Billion Zika funding bill, with two major caveats. Health agencies would have to receive 12 months of funding, as opposed to the three-month coverage which would be ensured by a prospective CR, and Republicans would have to detach Planned Parenthood restrictions from the bill’s language.
McConnell believes that the Senate could pass the CR as early as next week, and while House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has suggested that he is open to a short-term CR, it is unclear whether House conservatives will support extending current levels of spending into December.
Conservative groups are concerned that a lame-duck Congress may be more prone to bipartisan budgetary back scratches, such as the possibility of equal raises to the defense and discretionary budgets. According to Politico, some are weighing a temporary pause on Syrian refugees in exhange for support of a short-term CR.
What all of these internal and overlapping conflicts will mean for the nation’s pocketbook is still up for debate, but fiscal conservatives should keep a very close eye in coming weeks and months. Budget dysfunction rarely ends well for the country’s balance sheets, and this latest conflict should serve as another stern reminder of the desperate need for real reform.