After failing to approve any regular appropriations bills this year, Congress must take action this week on short-term stop-gap legislation to keep the government open after Friday.
Fiscal 2017 begins Saturday and Congress should have approved a dozen appropriations bills for the coming year by now. In recent years, however, breakdowns in the regular budget process have become routine.
While stop-gap legislation is necessary at this point to avoid a government shutdown, it will largely continue current spending levels regardless of changing circumstances while making it difficult for government agencies to efficiently plan for the coming year.
That’s why Congress should rely on such legislation for only short periods of time.
The chronic difficulties Congress has in approving regular annual spending bills has another negative consequence as well: Lawmakers have little time or inclination to focus on the broad structural reforms that are needed to put the federal budget on a sustainable path.
Shutdown Deadline Looms Over Congress (The Hill)