Well, I'm pumped for a tedious re-run of last spring's nasty, partisan Continuing Resolution fight -- who's with me? Erika was all over this on Friday, so click back to her work to read her summary before proceeding. With much of the political media's attention consumed by the twists and turns of the presidential race, the latest CR kerfuffle has been largely overlooked. The zero hour is once again approaching, though, so the issue will probably become a top Beltway story this week. Narrative: Will these wingnut Tea-Party-beholden Republicans force a government shutdown and deny disaster victims the federal aid they so desperately need post-Irene? Forgive me, but a few inconvenient factual reminders are in order:
(1) We're once again facing a stop-gap government funding crisis because the federal government is operating without an actual budget. Why? Because Senate Democrats haven't deigned to introduce one in nearly 900 days. Congressional Democrats deliberately chose not to do so when they controlled everything in 2010, and they have maintained that posture for purely political reasons in 2011. They've also, of course, killed every Republican idea that's come down the pike. Oh, and they unanimously defeated President Obama's FY 2012 budget, which was shoddily replaced with an unscorable budget "framework" speech in April. Which is not to be confused with his latest deficit reduction silliness, mind you. That's all "new," baby. In short, not one single Democrat in the United States Senate has voted in favor of an actual budget in well over two years. Budget resolutions offer spending blueprints for full fiscal years, and avoid these piecemeal resolutions -- as well as the government shutdown brinksmanship they invite.
(2) The Republican-controlled House passed a Continuing Resolution last week that would have kept the government running through mid-November and would've appropriated an additional $3.6 Billion in funding to FEMA. The spending levels generally adhered to benchmarks established in the Budget Control Act. (Hey, remember that?) Harry Reid's Senate promptly rejected it because Democrats wanted -- surprise! -- more spending, plus they hated the requirement in the GOP bill that the emergency disaster relief expenditures be paid for. Imagine that. To this end, Republicans suggested off-setting the billions in new spending with cuts to expensive "green energy" programs and loans. This element of the Democrats' agenda has proven wildly ineffective and wasteful at best -- just ask the New York Times and the Washington Post -- and totally corrupt and scandalous at worst. But apparently this giant failure of a boondoggle is sacrosanct to liberals, so Democrats would rather shut down the government than cut its funding. Priorities.
(3) After blocking the GOP's FEMA-funding, government-shutdown-avoiding bill, Senate Democrats postponed a vote on their alternative unpaid-for legislation. Why? Because Harry Reid decided everyone in Washington needed to "cool off" a little, suggesting that a weekend of "somber reflection" was just what the doctor ordered. He and his comrades then spent the weekend somberly reflecting at a swanky retreat in upscale Kiawah, South Carolina. The fact that Reid doesn't have the votes to pass his own plan might have something to do with it, too. I suppose we'll see at 5:30 this evening, won't we?
But please don't let these facts get in the way of a good pin-the-blame-on-Republicans meme. As this debate plays out early this week, remember that all of this is 100 percent the fault of callous, hostage-taking* House Republicans. It's a lot easier than thinking.
*Just click here.