Reid Offers Gloomy Prognosis for Government Spending Bills

The Senate’s top Democrat revealed his own gloomy assessment for how likely any of this year’s government spending bills will become law before funding runs out this fall: slim to none.

Sen. Reid

Even as he helps Senate Republicans bring the annual appropriations bills to the floor, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he doesn’t believe any of them have a chance to go to President Barack Obama’s desk before Congress heads out of town for political conventions in July—or even before funds run out Sept. 30.

“The appropriations process—to say it is too slow is a gross understatement,” Reid said on the Senate floor, trying to separate out money to combat the Zika virus from a “minibus” spending package that got bogged down amid fights over federal housing policy and other matters. “We need to get this done now. I don’t know when, if ever, these appropriations bills will be signed into law.”

Reid’s stark assessment included the House, where he said Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) hasn’t been able to convince Republicans to coalesce around a budget and hasn’t yet finished a spending bill. “So how are we going to take these things to conference?” Reid asked.

Some budget observers said it may not be correct, however, to use the word “failure” to describe the state of play on budget and appropriations matters.

“If failure isn’t the correct diagnosis, what’s the right way to refer to the House and Senate inability to perform?” asked Stan Collender, executive vice president of Qorvis MSLGROUP, in a recent blogpost. “Simple: Congress is suffering from ‘Fiscal Dysfunction,’ or FD.”