Unending Budget Dysfunction

The U.S. House will vote today on a six week budget plan that will keep the federal government running into mid-November, as lawmakers are starting off the new fiscal year in a familiar position - way behind on their budget work.

The 2012 Fiscal Year began on Saturday, but with the twelve budget bills nowhere near being finished, stop gap budgets are standard operating procedure for Washington, D.C. yet again.

If you are keeping score at home, this is the sixth time this year that Congress will have approved a temporary budget.

"The new year is a time for renewal and resolutions to improve," said a statement issued yesterday by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a budget watchdog group.

"However, it looks as if Congress is resolved to continuing along the path of budget dysfunction," the group observed.

This is the 17th straight year that lawmakers have not been able to get the budget done by October 1 - 1994 was the last time it happened, when Democrats were just weeks away from an election bloodbath in the race for Congress.

As for this year's budget work, the scoreboard shows that the House has passed six of the dozen budget bills, while only one has made it through the Senate.

And neither side seems to be in a rush to bring the rest of the bills to the House and/or Senate floor, as the last time lawmakers had to vote on a budget bill was late July.

That's more than two months ago.  Why?  Well, both parties knew there was no reason to bring those bills up on the floor, when there was little chance the bills would be done by October 1.

What's next on the budget? Maybe an Omnibus where all of the bills, or a group of them, are rolled into one larger measure, which is then pushed through the House and Senate with a minimum of debate.

If that doesn't happen before November 18 - when this temporary budget would run out - then there will have to be another "Continuing Resolution" to keep the government running.