With a THUD, Congress Kicks Another Can Down the Road
On domestic spending, it’s been assumed all year that the two halves of Congress were on a collision course.
What came as a stunning surprise was how the appropriations process crashed in the House on Wednesday — or, as those with knowledge of congressional lingo can appreciate best — how it landed with a thud.
Senators are on course to decide Thursday whether they’ll do their part to assure the impasse is locked down even earlier than expected, before the August recess starts and more than eight weeks before Congress must either reach at least a stopgap agreement or be complicit in the first partial government shutdown in nearly two decades.
The Senate will vote to either advance or spike its version of the Transportation-HUD bill for fiscal 2014, which goes by the totally awkward acronym of THUD. (Many on the Hill revel in pronouncing it like the word for heavy blow, but appropriations purists insist the proper thing to say is “tea hud.”)
Whatever you call it, the legislation is now an irreparable mess. And so it’s become the best available example of what President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans brought on themselves precisely two years ago, when they sealed the deal that raised the debt ceiling but started Washington down its slippery slope into the sequester.
Top Republicans decided to halt debate on the House’s version of the bill, probably never to be seen again, once they realized it had no chance of passage. They quickly concluded that presiding over the second high-profile defeat in a month of a bill of their side’s own making (the farm bill being the other) would further amplify their reputation as a majority leadership with steadily eroding control over its own troops — and thereby over the one slice of the government the public has elected them to run.