This is why we can’t have nice things: last week, lawmakers in Congress missed a huge deadline and failed to set a budget for the United States. But, since they do it every year, they act like it’s no big deal.
But it is. Every year, by April 15th, lawmakers are supposed to pass a budget resolution that sets overall spending levels for the federal government. While several proposals were introduced in February and March, Congress does not have plans to vote on any of them. So whether you thought the proposals themselves were good or bad, we’re now stuck in an unsatisfying budget limbo.
It’s time for some accountability. When he became Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan promised to return the budget process to regular order this year, which means passing a budget resolution.
Instead, because Ryan is unable to round up the votes he needs to pass his party’s own budget resolution, no budget proposal will be voted on, including the People’s Budget, which would have invested in communities and asked corporations to pay their fair share in taxes.
Now Americans are in federal budget limbo as lawmakers neglect one of their most important jobs: funding the federal government. As we’ve seen in the past, not following through on each step of the federal budget process can lead to shutting down the government or rushing at the end of the year to keep the lights on while giving away gifts to special interests.
There are months left to go to get out of budget limbo. While they skipped a key step in the budget process, members of Congress seem to have already moved on and are working on the next step: appropriations bills. This is where things get down to the nitty gritty: how much money will go to nuclear weapons? To higher education? To infrastructure?
One thing we know: to get out of budget limbo, we need to stay in the game and hold our leaders accountable like we’ve done time and again. Who knows? We might even end up in budget heaven instead of limbo.