December 17, 2010

Now That Omnibus Spending Bill Shelved, What Happens Next?

‘New Congress will deal with old year,' says former Congressman

Predicting the future is never easy. Predicting the future when politicians are involved is pretty much impossible.

Late Thursday night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was forced to pull the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill from consideration over Republican and Democratic complaints about the earmarks it contained. Reid was forced to admit he did not have the votes to pass it.

What’s happens next is anyone’s guess.

“Since the Senate biggy was defeated [omnibus spending bill], I don’t think [the Senate] will do a whole lot before recess,” says former Congressman Bill Frenzel (R-Minn.), now a guest scholar of economic studies at the Brookings Institution. “They’ll let the new Congress deal with the old year’s issues, so to speak. And the new Congress will be far less tolerant of spending requests; they already consider the bloated bureaucracy an affront.”

Frenzel, a Congressman for 20 years, specializes in budget issues and tax policy. He was the ranking minority member on the House Budget Committee; advised President Clinton on NAFTA; and advised President George W. Bush on Social Security and tax reform.

When asked about appropriation requirements specific to the bill, Frenzel zeros in on one agency in particular.

“If someone like the SEC comes to them and says they’ll be unable to accomplish some of what’s required of the them due to budgetary concerns, Congress will tell them to wake-up a few of the guys they already have working for them and learn to be more efficient with the resources they’ve got,” he says.

If Congress senses an emergency, they may pass some kind of a stop-gap measure, Frenzel says, "but you’re talking about a Congressional leadership that philosophically wants less spending and less regulation, so I wouldn’t play the odds on that one. As far as some of the other appropriations contained within the bill, it’s just too early to tell exactly how they’ll play out but not a lot will happen before the recess.”

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