Even though the Do-Nothing 109th Congress has passed just two out of 11 spending bills, it has decided to put off the remaining nine until the new year, “dumping almost a half-trillion dollars of spending bills on the incoming Democratic majority.”
The conservative leadership is already making excuses. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said he is looking into “what is feasible and achievable.” Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) admitted that political considerations may be behind the inertia, stating, “I know a lot of folks just as soon not to see them done this year and let the Democrats struggle here next year.”
But passing all spending bills isn’t an impossible task, and it wouldn’t be unprecedented. As GovExec.com notes, it has been done before:
In 1994, when Republicans swept back to power in the House after four decades, there was no spending mess to clean up — all appropriations bills had been enacted by the Democrats before the end of the fiscal year. But they did convene a brief lame duck to consider the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade measure.
By skipping the spending bills, Roll Call notes that the House will be able to close up shop by Dec. 8, with the Senate staying a few days later to consider Robert Gates’s nomination. Congress is currently adjourned until Dec. 4, meaning the 109th Congress may be at work for just four days before breaking again.