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Congressional Democrats failed to learn from the miserable example set for them by the Republicans and now they, too, are coming up against the end of the session and the end of the year with a mound of unfinished business.
President Bush delights in pointing this out on an almost daily basis, and there he was Monday in the White House Rose Garden piously calling on the “new” Congress, meaning Democrat-run, “to use the time left to support troops, and to protect our citizens, prevent harmful tax increases and responsibly fund government.”
The Democrats are painfully aware that aren’t in enough control of Congress to override Bush’s veto or shut off Republican filibusters in the Senate. Bush who rarely mentioned and almost never used the veto in his first six years in office now mentions that, too, on an almost daily basis. He reiterated his determination to veto “irresponsible spending.”
Bush’s problem is getting Congress to send him something he can veto. Of the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government’s operations each year, Congress has passed only two — and Bush vetoed one of those, sending matters back to square one. All 12 bills were supposed to have been passed by Oct. 1, the start of the federal fiscal year. In the meantime, the government operates on short-lived stopgap measures called continuing resolutions.
Aside from the necessary, must-pass work of governing, Congress also has pending the long delayed energy bill, a five-year renewal of the huge farm bill, wiretapping legislation and children’s health insurance.
It’s conceivable that the Congress, with a little cooperation from the Republicans, could get all this done in time for the holiday recess. Perhaps fortunately for them, the Democrats don’t have the course available to them the Republicans took when they were in the identical fix last year. Having lost control of the Congress in November, they simply gave up and went home, leaving their own large mound of unfinished business for the incoming Democrats to clean up.
As annoying as the Democrats may find Bush’s scolding, he’s right. Pass the bills.