As the U.S. House began work on appropriation bills for the next year, the two political parties were even more at odds over how best to deal with the details of the federal budget.
The first spending bill brought to the floor was a $77 billion measure on veterans and military construction spending, a bill that was guaranteed to get wide support in both parties.
But as in 2009, Democrats limited the number of amendments that could be offered on the House floor, which spurred a number of complaints from Republicans.
“Democracy isn’t supposed to be easy,” groused Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), who yearned for the times when any member could offer an amendment to a budget bill on the floor of the House.
“It’s not the right way to do it,” said Rep. David Dreier (R-CA), who made the point that “process is substance.”
Democrats on the House Rules Committee allowed 14 amendments to be offered to this first appropriations measure. To many of you, that might sound fine.
But as someone who has watched these debates for the past thirty years, it’s a far cry from how it used to be done, when we would stay late at night for weeks on end in June and July, waiting for some juicy amendments to be offered on the House floor and then voted on in work on the various spending bills.
“The majority in power doesn’t seem to want that, they want to shield their members from difficult votes and also shield those who are getting these earmarks,” said Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who offered up a plan to knock out dozens of military construction earmarks backed by lawmakers.
But while Republicans say they would love to offer amendment after amendment to put Democrats on the record about cuts in certain programs, especially in the government bureaucracy, they backed off those amendments on the veterans bill.
Why? Well, Democrats were ready to attack them for trying to cut worthwhile veterans programs.
As you can see, it’s easy to talk about cutting the budget. It’s a little different to actually do it.
Meanwhile, Rep. Flake’s plan to knock out dozens of military construction projects that were requested by individual lawmakers went nowhere as expected, but he will certainly be back with more.