Once Again, Tardy Budget Work Means Haste and Waste

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Lawmakers have continued to dawdle on a budget for Fiscal 2015, now only two weeks away. House leaders, however, say they hope to move forward shortly on a stop-gap measure.

Unable to produce even one of twelve regular spending bills needed for 2015, Congress lowered its sights in recent weeks to a simple continuing resolution to tide the government over until mid-December. Such a measure would largely continue this year’s funding levels.

Unfortunately, even that has proved to be more difficult than some had expected. Last week the House delayed voting on such a measure, with Republicans considering — among other things — what to do about Islamic militants.

This illustrates a key problem with chronic congressional procrastination: As new challenges emerge, which they inevitably do, they become entangled with other legislative decisions that should have been completed months earlier.

In addition, the lack of approved spending legislation makes it impossible for federal agencies to know until the last minute what they should plan to do and how much they should plan to spend in the coming year. This wastes tax dollars.

Meanwhile, many lawmakers still want to reinstate various tax cuts that expired last December — but they don’t want to offset the lost revenue. This would increase the deficit and move away from the goal of a simpler and more equitable tax system.

External links:
What Is a Continuing Resolution? (Concord Coalition)
Continuing Appropriations Resolution Cost Estimate (CBO)
Appropriations 101 (CRFB)

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