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As of this week, House Speaker John Boehner is prepared to send the United States into a lame-duck session through a short-term continuing resolution to fund the federal government. The October 1st deadline to pass a budget for the next fiscal year is swiftly approaching and any hopes of passing it through the regular order of twelve appropriation bills have disappeared.
The House has at least made a passing effort at regular order; they have passed seven of the twelve required appropriations bills. Sadly, the Senate has been too busy focusing on overruling the Supreme Court and crafting ways to amend the First Amendment to pass a budget.
With only one week before the August recess and ten legislative days in September, House and Senate leaders are looking to avoid any talk of a government shutdown by quickly passing a continuing resolution. Speaker Boehner’s plan is to work on this continuing resolution in September which would last through early December. This would force both chambers into an unfortunate lame-duck session to work on funding for the rest of the fiscal year.
Lame duck sessions are never a good sign for liberty. Coming fresh off of an election, and with the public focused on the holidays instead of politics, Members of Congress feel unaccountable to public opinion and will be tempted to ram through unwise and unpopular policies. In 2012 for instance, Republicans and Democrats negotiated a deal to avoid their self-created “fiscal cliff” by passing a massive tax hike. Regarding next year’s budget, Republicans will be less willing to fight for serious spending reforms that are necessary. They will want a quick fix so they can get out of town before Christmas.
Lawmakers in both parties nearly always seize upon lame-duck sessions as opportunities to pass awful bills. Though bills like the Marketplace Fairness Act and Export-Import Bank authorization have been unable to gain enough traction during the regular session, the opposition to these policies is much weaker during a lame duck session. It is an opportunity to cave into the demands of party leaders.
It would be wise for Boehner to reconsider his plans. Paired with costly, post-election regulations from the Obama administration, this lame duck session would not be good for the American people. It is a time when establishment Republicans and Democrats can come together and pursue their unwanted agenda.