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Congressional Report Card
The Appropriation Bills
Three Musketeers - Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius, and John Gay
Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius, and John Gay all ran for Congress in the 2012 Republican Primary. They became friends and have been writing weekly columns for the Galveston County Daily News since May 2013.

December 5, 2016Congressional progress on appropriation bills shows they are not taking their jobs seriously.

The Constitution gives Congress the responsibility for funding the federal government and the President the veto pen.  Without Congressional action the government shuts down.  Since our August 22nd report there’s been a little progress on the twelve spending bills.   But with the government facing yet another shutdown; Congress will need to act by December 9th.

Since our last report one spending bill (Military Construction/Veterans appropriations) and a temporary stopgap Continuing Resolution (CR) have passed and become law.  This keeps the government operating until this Friday.  Currently under consideration is another CR that will fund the government through the end of March.

But the bottom line remains; those representing us aren’t taking their constitutional duties seriously and are relying on CRs to keep the government open for business instead of passing individual appropriation measures.
This trend is likely to continue next year even with the Republicans in control of the White House and Congress.  The threat of filibusters by Senate Democrats won’t go away but there’s a little-known procedure that could overcome this threat IF the Republican Leadership is willing to use it.  It’s called the “Two Speech Rule” and here is how it works.  

Under this rule senators are limited to two speeches in one legislative day on a question before the Senate. Unlike a calendar day, legislative days end when the Senate adjourns. Once a senator has given two speeches he/she isn’t allowed to speak again.  This rule would then force a vote on the measure being debated.  It won’t limit the length of time a senator speaks but, unlike a filibuster, as long as the chamber doesn’t adjourn there would still be a point where a vote would be taken.

This may be a way the Senate will be capable of getting legislation such as these appropriation bills to President Trump’s desk.  Only time will tell whether the House will complete its job and the Senate leadership will employ the two-speech rule.  The American voters spoke out loud and clear in November, they want to change the way things are being done in Washington.  We will see if our elected officials are listening.  If not, perhaps it’s time to do more "draining of the swamp"!

Bill, Mark and John

Editor's Note:  If I were your Congressman I would introduce legislation that changes the House rules to require the Appropriations Committee to report to the full House all twelve funding bills prior to the July 4th Independence Day recess.  If they failed to do so, then the House would not take a recess/vacation and would remain in session.  The same would apply to the normal August recess.  Until the Appropriations Committee completes its work, nobody takes time off!  Now to be honest, this would have little, if any, chance of passage, but it would put down a marker saying get your work done or don't go home!  We pay Congressmen to get the job done; they should do so!