A Republican congressman, vowing to vote against a resolution to keep the government open, admitted on Sunday that Americans are “sick and tired” of Congress’s constant fights over the federal budget.
The US government will run out of funding for many nonessential services, including pay for thousands of Americans who work at various agencies, if Congress does not pass a short-term funding bill, called a continuing resolution, before 1 October.
House Republicans, who control the lower chamber by a single-digit margin, have yet to agree on a package that would attract enough Republican and/or Democratic support to pass a vote.
Tim Burchett, a member of the Freedom Caucus, was asked by CNN on Sunday why he didn’t support an effort to keep the government open for another month.
“I have not voted for [continuing resolutions], I didn’t vote for one under President Trump and I haven’t voted for any any in the past,” he said.
GOP House speaker Kevin McCarthy has backed a deal that would keep the government open in exchange for cutting federal spending levels by 8 per cent and reviving some Trump-era border security measures.
Mr Burchett had harsh criticism for both parties and said that Americans were tired of Congress not passing a regular budget every year, and instead relying on omnibus spending bills crafted behind closed doors.
“This dysfunctional Washington cannot continue. The American public knows what we’re up to, and they’re sick and tired of it,” he said.
“You close those doors and the only colour they see is green. That’s why they love an omnibus package; it’s like [former] Speaker Pelosi said, ‘we have to pass it to know what’s in it.’”
He added: “We had the whole month of August to deal with this, and yet they sent us home.”
Omnibus spending bills combine two or more yearly bills passed by the 12 appropriations subcommittees into a single piece of legislation.
Found on a baby changing table in restroom underneath House floor:
“Declaring the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives to be vacant,” from Rep. @mattgaetz, Sept. 15, 2023, 11:22am pic.twitter.com/6p7uJ2qNvh
— Matt Laslo (@MattLaslo) September 19, 2023
Such bills are often easier to pass, as the political pressure for opposing them is far greater, especially given the constant threat of shutdown looming behind.
Critics of omnibus bills point to the tremendous amount of earmarked-spending often attached, which drives up the total cost of the bill as pet projects for various legislators are approved through the process.
Mr Burchett and others in the far-right wing of the Republican House caucus have vowed to vote against the resolution offered by Mr McCarthy. The GOP leader does not currently have the votes to pass a continuing resolution without support from Democrats.
Were Mr McCarthy to cut a deal with Democrats, he would likely have to give up on some, or all, of his spending cuts — and would certainly face a motion to vacate his control of the GOP caucus from the far right.
That motion to vacate was actually discovered, written by Rep Matt Gaetz, left in a House bathroom this week by congressional reporter, Matt Laslo.
On Sunday, Mr Burchett called on Republicans to pass a budget funding the federal government for next year, mentioning a plan authored by one of his colleagues.
“Jodi Arrington out of Texas, God bless him...they gave him 10 minutes in [the Republican conference meeting] to talk about a budget,” Mr Burchett said.
“Nobody paid any attention, but that’s what we’re supposed to do.”
An unspoken truth complicating that idea: Mr Arrington’s budget proposal is not yet supported by enough House Republicans, let alone a Democrat-controlled Senate or President Joe Biden.