It’s that time of year again. No, not the holidays, but Congress’ annual maneuvering to pass a budget.
It has to figure out a way to keep the government running beyond Dec. 11, when current funding runs out. A lot of terms have been used to describe this annual ritual. Remember fiscal cliff? Now there’s a new one: Cromnibus. It’s part omnibus – that is, a long-term funding bill – and part continuing resolution, or CR – for short-term funding. CR plus omnibus equals "cromnibus."
“More Congressional folly,” says Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute.
Ornstein says the GOP base wants to fight President Obama’s recent executive order on immigration. So, Republicans in Congress are reportedly considering a cromnibus. That is, an omnibus bill to fund most of the government through September and a continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security for just a few months.
The Republican plan takes aim at funding for DHS departments responsible for carrying out the order. There’s just one problem. Some DHS funding comes from fees.
“They can’t shut down spending directly for a program that’s supported by fees," Ornstein says.
But the cromnibus would at least let the GOP put off the immigration confrontation until it takes over both houses of Congress in January. Kicking the can down the road, as usual.
“That’s what congress does and that road is really littered with cans,” says Jack Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College. Congress was supposed to get the budget done months ago, he says. Congress’ dithering affects government productivity.
“It slows down the agencies," says Paul Light, a professor of public service at NYU. "It costs us money. Whole sub-units of agencies stand in the cold wind waiting to find out what they’re going to get.”
There is some good news. Even with all of these shenanigans, Light does not think there’ll be a government shutdown.