Tag Archives: appropriations

This Winter of Discontent. Time to Shovel Snow


The end of a Congress reminds me of those blinding winter blizzards of my youth on the Great Plains. There’s no visibility. Drivers can’t see the road signs and pedestrians stumble forward across snow drifts and invisible ice with their head down. When the snowstorm is over, there is left a path of destruction and a massive clean-up job in the offing.

The end of the 117th Congress is howling to its close. Members have been in a hurried and harried race to pass a massive piece of legislation to keep the government funded. It is more than 4,000 pages, a virtual blizzard of politics, partisanship, and legislative language that members have no time to plow through. They will vote—or have voted by now—with their heads down, and their eyes closed, not having read the bill. Okay, enough with the metaphors.

Congress will get passed what it can, the leaders will call the President to tell him the Congress is officially kaput, and members will declare victory of one kind or another and go home. Actually, as this is written many are rushing back to Washington to hear Ukrainian President  Volodymyr Zelenskyy address Congress. Continue reading

Congress: When Success Is Still Failure


The movement to reform the U.S. Congress is like a G-rated flick that would make Walt Disney yawn. There’s no sex, no violence, no scandal, no crime, comparatively little political intrigue, and no big-time stars, just a lot of risqué talk about filibustering the motion to proceed.

It is doubtful the subject will come up in campaigns, either, beyond the patronizing and often hypocritical blather about running against Washington.

Several weeks ago the House Rules Committee held a hearing on about 40 reforms that members wanted to see brought up on the opening day of the next Congress in January 2019. The attention to it was, as you would expect, silence.

There wasn’t any news coverage, except from Paul Krawzak at Congressional Quarterly, who understands the subject matter.

The need for reform couldn’t be clearer, or more critical, or more timely.

Continue reading

Repo Club

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

The number one candidate backed by the Club for Growth is not only a trial lawyer but also a Repo Man.

Bryan Smith, who is running against Mike Simpson in the second district of Idaho, is pretty well known commodity in his home town. He is not particularly well-liked there, because he is a trial lawyer and runs a debt collection business on the side.

Smith also has some experience lobbying. He lobbied hard against efforts to pass tort reform in Idaho. Continue reading

Dog Days

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

Originally printed in The Hill

The dog days of summer used to be dedicated to the appropriations process on Capitol Hill.

Both the House and the Senate would slog through 13 spending bills, usually under an open amendment process. Members of the various subcommittees would fend off hostile amendments, defending projects, programs and spending levels.

When the bills passed the House or Senate floors, members of both bodies would put out press releases, touting the bacon they would be bringing home for local constituencies. And back home, those constituents would applaud news of funds from Washington, to build bridges, to fund the local Veterans Affairs hospital, or whatever else was being touted by those press releases. Continue reading

Duck Sex and Essential Government (Part II)


When last we commiserated about the sex life of ducks, we questioned why taxpayers were being billed (billed—ducks—get it?) for million-dollar National Science Foundation (NSF) research into the corkscrew-like genital appendage on the female duck that deters the unwanted advances of the male.

The study, now in its eighth year, is just one of hundreds of taxpayer-funded projects that presumably hold the promise of scientific discovery and the eventual benefit to society worth the investment. And maybe that will turn out to be the case.

Though science projects are a budgetary breeding ground of questionable spending priorities and outright waste, there are others much worse.

Remember the Las Vegas retreat for General Service Administration employees? How about the Internal Revenue Service spending $49 million on conferences? Continue reading