Yesterday, both houses of Congress approved a temporary spending bill just days before a potential government shutdown.
In the past, CR’s extended the previous year’s agreed-upon levels of funding. This year’s CR, however, includes even higher levels of spending. Granted, the bill does include multiple provisions aimed at alleviating the effects of time-sensitive crises, but increasing spending under the guise of a Continuing Resolution, which is intended to keep funding at current levels, is relatively uncharted territory of fiscal irresponsibility.
Congress included $1.1 billion towards alleviating the spread of Zika, and $500 million in aid for communities, including Louisiana and West Virginia, that have been devastated by flooding.
Funding for Flint was not officially included in the bill, although Republican House leadership formally scheduled time to address the situation by bringing up the Water Resources Development Act (which passed the Senate earlier this month) after the election. The Senate bill included $220 million in appropriations for cities such as Flint, while the Republican amendment would authorize $170 million.
In addition, $7 million was included to address the opioid epidemic. However, the majority of the CRs increase from last year’s spending levels will be going towards Military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs – the only two agency budgets to receive full-year funding.
Many Americans oppose a government shutdown, and would agree with Paul Ryan’s frustration with divided government and dysfunction. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), chairman of the House Appropriation’s Committee, justified his vote by adding, “[passing a CR] is what we must do to fulfill our congressional responsibility to keep the lights on in our government.”
But particularly as spending is increased and on track to keep going up, Americans are also right to question why these crises keep happening. Just because a majority of Americans are against a government shutdown, does not mean we also approve of waiting until the last minute to complete a project that was assigned at the beginning of the year.