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  • More Continuing Resolution Transparency, Please

    One issue that has come to the forefront in the debate over a continuing resolution to fund the government for the remainder of the year is transparency.  Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and President Barack Obama negotiated a deal on Friday averting a government slowdown behind closed doors and in secret — without any significant consent of the governed.  We now have details of the final legislation, yet the American people were completely cut out of this legislative drafting process.

    Republicans and Democrats in the House should be commended for the extensive and exhaustive debate on the original continuing resolution debated and passed last month.  As I wrote in The Foundry on March 4th, the House debate on the CR was transparent and allowed participation of the American people.

    The House passed a long-term CR on February 19 by a 235–189 vote. The long-term CR funds the federal government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011 and contains $61 billion in cuts from FY 2010 levels of spending. The House ended up with the $61 billion total after a week-long open debate with hundreds of amendments filed and a virtually unlimited amendment process. The House ended a five-day debate with over 40 hours of debate, over 500 amendments filed, over 150 amendments offered and over 100 recorded votes. This is extraordinary for the House, and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) should be applauded for this relatively open process to consider a controversial appropriations measure.

    The Senate never conducted a similar debate.  They did have two votes with very limited debate on a Republican and Democrat plan, yet the Senate failed to schedule a fair and balanced debate on the House passed continuing resolution.

    Leaders in the House and Senate went behind closed doors last week and cut a last minute deal to avert a government slowdown.  The American people were not presented a specific list of what was in the closed door agreement before the actual text of the continuing resolution was written.  In other words, the leaders agreed to the parameters of a deal, but not the actual legislative text of the final continuing appropriations bill to be introduced and voted upon by the House and Senate.

    All the American people had were some dueling press releases from The White House and Congressional Leaders.  This week, the House and Senate will vote on the deal as memorialized by House and Senate staff and members.

    The AP reports that about $15 billion in “cuts” are from funds that were unlikely to be spent.

    About $10 billion of the cuts comes from targeting appropriations accounts previously used by lawmakers for so-called earmarks, those pet projects like highways, water projects, community development grants and new equipment for police and fire departments. Republicans had already engineered a ban on earmarks when taking back the House this year. Republicans also claimed $5 billion in savings by capping payments from a fund awarding compensation to crime victims. Under an arcane bookkeeping rule – used for years by appropriators – placing a cap on spending from the Justice Department crime victims fund allows lawmakers to claim the entire contents of the fund as budget savings. The savings are awarded year after year.

    This all could have been avoided if the Senate had taken some time to debate a continuing resolution on the Senate floor.  Short of that, Congressional Leaders and the President should have been more transparent during these negotiations.  At the end of this negotiation, the President and Congressional Leaders should have provided the public the specific details of the deal, so they could asses whether their elected officials were acting consistent with these leaders duty to represent the interests of the American people.

    The lack of hearings, debate and open voting process on this deal has effectively cut the American people out of the process.  Our nation is founded on the idea of consent of the governed. Participation by the American people does not begin and end on Election Day; it is a continuous process and allows for Americans to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  It is hard to petition when you are not allowed to know what the government is doing.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to More Continuing Resolution Transparency, Please

    1. Bobbie says:

      Government mandated confiscated earned money of the tax payers, involves the tax payers (public) the right to know where our hard earned money is going and what it's doing regarding every penny within government control so government's overreach can be detected, corrected and removed on the spot.

      There is nothing the government needs to hide from us except confidential information that could benefit the enemy!!! But when they've become the enemy?????

      Honesty and transparency! Is that too much to ask? This is expected and no one is holding anyone accountable enough to make a difference.

      How the heck can they call new equipment for police and fire departments, "earmarks?" Protection and safety of citizens and they're protectors is a priority. Unless the new equipment goes beyond that purpose?

    2. George Colgrove VA says:

      No one in the Federal Government could tell the truth even if this country’s life depended on it.

      Transparency? The federal workforce censored nearly half of the transparency guidelines before it was released to the public.

      Obama accepts the Transparency award in Secret!

      The federal government is filled with crooks, filling their pockets. There is no interest in slowing spending when the red hot streams of cash is flowing from vapor to the pocketbooks of highly paid federal workers, elected officials and smoking hot streams of cash going to federal contractors. Last year defense contractors were able to grab the entire 2001 defense budget of $330 (+) billion in total combined revenue from extorted taxpayer hard earned cash. The single largest payout by a government to a single industry ever!

      You can imagine why republicans want to continue the madness on their side with extensive defense spending while allowing the democrats the madness on their entitlement side.

      In defense terms, what both parties are doing is MAD – Mutual Assured Destruction. Except they walk away with the treasury, leaving the US citizens to suffer.

      To all you federal workers and elected officials – have you said an oath of office lately?

    3. Tom Brenkus, Benton says:

      It appears to me that it is just business as usual – deals behind closed doors. The republicans should have stuck to their guns and forced the shut down. Apparently the spending cuts were of no significance.

    4. John P. Nelson says:

      The Democrats and socialist Republicans lost overwhelmingly in the midterm elections. Now John Boehner and the other Marxist are trying to steal the Tea Party mandate!

    5. CoryC, Indiana says:

      "We now have details of the final legislation, yet the American people were completely cut out of this legislative drafting process"

      No we were not. We elected representation and we got it. America is a representative democracy not a pure democracy. We the people don't get a say in every detail of government.

    6. George Colgrove VA says:

      How do you steal trillions of dollars of wealth from rich people?

      For you sci-fi fans, this amounts to temporal wealth redistribution.

      George Soros says this economy can absorb more debt. What he did not say is that he has not stolen enough of our money yet, and he wants more!

      This is the basic truth behind the dangerously high, federal workforce made National Debt. The number one National Security Threat to the USA!

      Where no cash existed, federal workers, elected officials, federal contractors and the Federal Reserve bankers are creating massive amounts of wealth out of air for themselves. After a collapse, they get to keep this wealth and all the accrued interest on that wealth to themselves while we pay $500 for a super inflated carrot.

      However, that money has to come from somewhere. But where. You see, they have the cash right now. It is what we call on the outside of the federal circle, the National Debt. To these people it is FREE cash. And right now they are doing what they can to get more – lots more!

      At some point, the federal workforce and elected officials are going to determine that it is time to pay back that debt. Well, they know that right now, but they are not done with us yet. Their personal greed has yet to be satisfied – especially those at the bottom of this pyramid scheme – the newly hired and newly elected.

      They are trying to con us into believing they worked hard cutting $38 billion in the largest federal spending cut ever. They are now convincing us that they cannot cut another dollar or dire results will occur. Moreover, they are starting to justify the largest tax increase on the wealthy producers in near history.

      This amounts to temporal wealth redistribution. Looks like liberals and the federal workforce HAVE THOUGHT OF EVERYTHING!! Through threats, fear mongering and obfuscations, public officials, elected or hired are stealing wealth in the largest transfer of wealth scheme ever to made – right under our noses. The greedy public sector of yesterday and today is taking from the wealthy private sector of tomorrow.

      People, we are on our own here, fighting for the crumbs. The federal workforce and elected officials along with federal contractors are performing the last duty of any government which is raiding the treasury. Only they are doing it in such an evil way that not even George Washington could ever imagine! These guys have already cleaned out the treasury, they are now on an unabashful pursuit of ALL FUTURE CASH AS WELL! They are creating a new class for themselves. We need to educate our family and friends!

      This is insidious! Hey Feds re-read that oath of office you gave us!

    7. Redfray, Pea Ridge, says:

      Time to recall Mr. Boehner. He was never my choice for speaker of the house.

    8. George Colgrove VA says:

      Some Drudge Headlines – Things are spiraling out of control – DC bleeds greed!


      FED OFFICIAL: Big banks are ' government-sponsored entities'…

      IMF: US 'lacks credibility' on debt…


      Conservatives' criticism growing…

      Budget deal axes 'czars' — who are already gone…

      Budget Deal $773B Higher Than Last Year's Budget…


      Citing the Pledge of Allegiance on the Senate floor, Harry Reid omits 'under God'…

      Town Bans Tea Party Signs in Public Park…


    9. Barb McCormick, Gran says:

      Thank You for the instructive contrast between the week long open debate on amendments to HR1 and the last-minute, closed door negotiations over the most recent CR (which is the last piece of a de facto 2011 budget).

      On my scorecard, Mr. Boehner has struck out.

      Strike 1- unprincipled, seniority based, business-as-usual appointments to chair many of the 21 House committees. (there are a few commendable exceptions such as Paul Ryan)

      Strike 2- Choosing as his moral high ground the mole hill of House rules and procedure rather than the mountain of limited, Constitutional government–limited government was the high ground staked out for him by the Tea Party.

      Strike 3- A preference for closed door negotiations that suggest a progressive mindset, i.e., open markets are messy so its better to let the "smartest guys in the room" manage things for the rest of us poor schlubs.

      I wonder if Mr. Boehner and many of his committee chairmen would rather not cut the size and scope of government since that would take away from the size and power of the departments they oversee and pinch their ability to spend other people's money to "get things done". I would like to see Mr. Boehner return to the dugout and committee chairmen like Mr. Rogers, Mr. Lucas, Mr. Kline and Mr. Upton replaced with new talent more interested in shutting down departments than better managing them.

    10. Pingback: Morning Bell: Read Before You Vote | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

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