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The worst-kept secret in Washington, D.C. is that Congress will once again fail to do its most basic constitutional job and pass legislation to fund the federal government beyond the end of the current fiscal year on September 30.
Although both party’s leaders are slow to admit it, the annual fight over $4 trillion of federal funding is heading down a now-familiar path. Lawmakers will lurch toward a government shutdown, pass a temporary continuing resolution to keep federal doors open, and eventually agree to a last-minute omnibus funding bill — a massive trillion dollar-plus package riddled with waste and cobbled together without public scrutiny or congressional debate. And lawmakers wonder why their approval ratings hover in the teens.
Worse, Republicans will take the blame, because they run Congress. What a policy and political debacle a few weeks before the November elections.
So what can fiscal conservatives do to break this cycle of fiscal dysfunction? Protecting the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) and its spending controls should be priority one for the hundreds of lawmakers who profess to want responsible government spending.
Passed by strong bipartisan majorities and signed by President Obama in 2011, the act established spending caps on the one-third of the federal budget not devoted to entitlement or interest payments. These caps have been the only meaningful restraints on federal spending during the Obama years. And they have worked — when enforced.