BRYAN CLARK Spirit Staff
WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin invoked President Harry Truman on Thursday in a rebuke against fellow lawmakers, who are preparing to vote on a resolution to fund the government until after the November election with no major changes in taxes or spending.
The measure, called a ‘continuing resolution,’ is expected to pass today, after which Congress will go into recess until after the election.
Manchin said the current Congress and the 170 pieces of legislation its passed has been far less productive than the one Truman referred to as the “Do-Nothing Congress,” which passed more than 900 bills.
“We just didn’t show up,” Manchin said, adding that “they’ll have to add a new word to the dictionary” to describe the level of legislative inactivity in the current session.”
Manchin decried the practice of approving continuing resolutions as a means to fund the government, rather than its agreeing to a budget bill.
“These continuing resolutions are supposed to be temporary, but it looks to me like they’ve become a permanent way of doing business here in Congress,” Manchin said in a Senate floor speech.
Manchin said the federal government is being funded by short-term “continuing resolutions” rather than an actual budget since he entered the Senate almost two years ago. He said this most recent resolution was the 13th one that has been passed during his tenure on Capitol Hill.
He said he would support a continuing resolution to fund the government only until the end of the year, which would force the legislature to remain in session. He hopes progress could be made on a “big deal” to address the growing national debt. Instead, he argued, Congress has chosen to forestall negotiations until the elections are over.
“That basically is kicking the can,” Manchin said. “We’re not fixing anything. We’re just saying, ‘Oh, we need a little bit more time, a little bit more time, a little bit more time.”
Manchin noted several automatic deadlines are set to kick in at the end of the year, including the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and payroll tax deductions. Automatic draconian spending cuts, referred to as sequestration, are also set to take place at that time.
Manchin said Congress is frozen by fear of the political consequences of passing a reform policy and that political worries have entirely outstripped policy considerations on the Hill.
“I’ve never seen anything like (this). I don’t know,” Manchin said. “Committees aren’t even meeting on a regular basis.”
Manchin said he was baffled that Congress was able to quickly agree on a bank bailout package when crisis threatened the nation’s investment banks but was unable to come up with any agreement on dealing with the national debt.