Congress has left DC to hit the campaign trail. Before leaving, the House and Senate rushed through a Continuing Resolution keeping the government open until December 9. The CR funds most government agencies at existing levels. It also includes $1.1 billion for domestic and international programs to fight the Zika virus and $500 million for flood relief. Congress continues to throw money at disasters despite the government’s track record in actually helping disaster victims. The CR does not contain money to deal with the water crises in Flint, Michigan. Does this mean Congress has recognized that not every problem requires a federal intervention? Of course not, the aide for Flint has been moved to the WATRA bill. The House and Senate have both passed version of the WATERA, and both versions contain aide for Flint. You can see the Senate vote on the CR here and the House vote here. So what can we expect from the lame duck? Veronique de Rugy, writing in National Review, says that is history is any guide, predicts that the so-called “conservative” Congress will once again dramatically increase spending:
This ugly but all-too-common bipartisanship is about to show its face once again during the next lame-duck session, which occurs whenever Congress meets after its successor is elected, but before the successor’s term begins. The old guard is on its way out, meaning that some its members don’t care much about the consequences of their actions. It’s an ideal time to push for all the stuff lawmakers were too afraid to push for fear of looking bad. It is also an ideal time to repay favors to lobbyists or help with one last favor to special interests. Of course, it shouldn’t be a problem with a Republican majority in both the house and the senate. And yet, as everyone knows, having a Republican majority is no guarantee of seeing big government olicies blocked. Over at Forbes, Freedom Partners Andy Koenig explains how having Republicans in the majority doesn’t changed the fact that Lame Duck sessions are generally a raw deal for taxpayers: The 2012 “fiscal cliff deal,” for instance, busted the bipartisan spending caps established in the 2011 Budget Control Act, allowing for an additional $47 billion in government spending. … 2014 was no better. Once again, right in time for the holidays. a long list of wasteful federal programs received more taxpayer-funded stocking stuffers. The lame-duck spending bill included an additional $284 million to cushion the Environmental Protection Agency, including initiatives to beautify beaches and combat algal blooms in the Great Lakes; and the most heavily-lobbied bill of the year. An army of more than 200 lobbyists deployed on Capitol Hill to make sure that the $1.1-trillion package had goodies for their clients. This year will be no different. On the table for the taking we will have a wide variety of crony programs such as a roughly $19 billion tax-extenders package (including tax breaks for NASCAR, Hollywood studios, or green energy super-powers), a taxpayer-funded bailout for insurers participating in the Affordable Care Act, as well as restoration of the Export-Import Bank’s full lending authority. We can also count on a bipartisan agreement to bust yet again the BCA budget caps. Unfortunately, all the signs are present that Republicans will cave and give cronies and Democrats all that they want.