Congress is again down to the wire on spending legislation for the current fiscal year, which is already half over. Returning to Washington after a 2-week recess, lawmakers need to take action before a stop-gap measure expires at midnight on Friday.
The alternative would be a shutdown for much of the government, wasting tax dollars and further diminishing public confidence in elected officials’ ability to take care of their fundamental budgetary responsibilities.
This spending legislation should have been approved well before last Oct. 1, when Fiscal 2017 began. But Congress has only approved one of the twelve annual appropriations bills that are needed to keep the government running.
Instead, Congress has relied -- as it has in each year since 1997 -- on stop-gap measures known as “continuing resolutions” that generally continue funding for federal programs at current levels, regardless of changing needs and priorities. This reliance on temporary measures also make it difficult for federal agencies and departments to plan and work efficiently.
In addition, lawmakers now find themselves at the start of a new annual budget cycle without having completed their work on the last one.
Congress passed its first stop-gap measure for 2017 in late September, with only two days to spare...