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Six-Month Stopgap Spending Measure Sent to President

08:56AM Sep 22, 2012

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Congress departs for Nov. 6 elections, to return for lame-duck session

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

The Senate cleared a six-month stopgap spending measure early Saturday, after a week of negotiations laced with electoral politics.

The Senate cleared the spending bill 62-30, with 10 Republicans voting with the Democratic majority and only one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin (W.V.), voting against.

The measure, which the president is expected to sign soon, will extend spending through March 27 and increase levels for most programs and agencies by about 0.6 percent.

A delayed test for Tester bill. The final piece of business the Senate addressed before departing for Nov. 6 elections was a vote on a motion to proceed to the Sportsman Act when they return. The motion was approved by a 84-7 vote. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced S 3525, which combines 20 bipartisan bills to increase access to federal land for hunters and fishers while also supporting conservation measures.

Paul bill defeated. Meanwhile, the Senate early Saturday overwhelmingly voted down (10-81) a bill from Kentucky Republican Rand Paul that would cut off aid to Pakistan, Egypt and Libya.

Comments: This Congress has been the most frustrating one to cover in my over three-decade career, largely because of a lack of bipartisan leadership in Congress, a White House which refuses to seek cooperation with both parties, and a host of issues with both sides wanting their way with very little if any give to reach an end zone. Even the farm bill saga was laced with 24/7 politics, as witnessed by Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow's (D-Mich.) recent comments on the matter. Regarding the farm bill timeline, sources tell me that House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) would work to complete the bill before year's end, but if for whatever reason that did not happen, he would not waste any time and would mark up a bill immediately upon commencement of a new Congress. So don't yet write off a final farm bill in the lame-duck session. But with this Congress, you can't have much faith that much if anything will be done when the same lawmakers return for a short session following elections.

This is the earliest pre-election exit by Congress since 1960. The approval rating for the current Congress in a Gallup Poll earlier this month sank to just 13 percent, the lowest ever for an election year. Frankly, you have to wonder about the 13 percent who approve of this Congress. They must be family members of lawmakers....


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.