The Disaster In Louisiana Calls For A Measured Response From Congress

The flooding in Louisiana has been nothing short of tragic. The loss of life, the people displaced, and the damages that have permanently altered the lives of the people of Louisiana in the “worst disaster since Sandy” requires a response from Congress that is measured and fiscally responsible.

There is talk on Capitol Hill of implementing supplemental spending for the disaster in Louisiana that may be included in a continuing resolution — a bill instructing the Treasury Department to keep funding the government at current fiscal year levels – which Congress will likely take up in September. Congress has failed once again to pass the 12 spending bills that fund the government and get them to the president’s desk for his signature before the end of the fiscal year on September 30. Therefore, lawmakers will have to pass a continuing resolution when it gets back in September in order to avoid a federal government shutdown.

This may provide lawmakers with an opportunity to add supplemental spending for the Louisiana flooding to the continuing resolution. That would be an example of poor statesmanship. Putting supplemental disaster spending in a continuing resolution to keep the government open would put a great deal of pressure on members of the House and Senate to vote for the measure. Members should be afforded the opportunity to consider the continuing resolution on its merits.

The continuing resolution may be a clean one and simply an extension of current spending, or it may contain harmful policy riders. Anomalies could also be part of the continuing resolution. In the best tradition of Orwellian language, anomalies are provisions made by lawmakers that provide for additional funding of programs, even though that violates the spirit of what a continuing resolution should be. But Capitol Hill is oriented to fueling the status quo with federal dollars, and the opportunity for increasing federal funding is often too easy for lawmakers to pass up.