Cruz to House GOP: Punt Spending Debate Into 2015
Sen. Ted Cruz is launching an effort to push the House into a continuing resolution that funds the government into the next Congress.
“It would be a serious mistake for House Republicans to pass a Continuing Resolution that would ensure that Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats would come back to Washington, after many of them will have likely lost their seats, for a no-holds barred lame duck session where they will be free to pass legislation that the American people will never be able to hold them responsible for,” the Texas Republican said in a statement provided to CQ Roll Call.
“Americans cannot trust politicians they can no longer hold accountable at the ballot box,” Cruz said. “The Continuing Resolution should, at a minimum, fund government operations until after the new Congress is sworn in next year; House and Senate Republicans should both insist on this basic principle.”
The statement followed a letter sent by Cruz and Lee to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pledging to object to consent requests to move on more contentious proposals in the lame duck.
“[S]ome lawmakers in Washington have recently suggested that significant legislative matters would deliberately not be addressed during the 113th Congress until after the elections,” the two Republicans wrote to Reid. “Presumably, a lame-duck session would be used to try to pass partisan, unpopular bills in November or December that might be indefensible before the federal election on November 4th.”
The two conservatives added that “if a lame-duck session is deemed necessary this year, we urge you only to consider emergency legislation requiring immediate, unforeseeable action or noncontroversial housekeeping measures.”
The issue of the duration of the stopgap spending bill came up at a meeting with House conservatives with Cruz held Tuesday evening.
House Republicans have delayed consideration of the currently proposed continuing resolution . That decision came in light of a request by President Barack Obama for additional funding and authority related to training and equipping opposition rebels in Syria , as part of the broader fight against the terror group known as both the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
As currently drafted, that CR would fund the government through Dec. 11, setting up the potential for an omnibus appropriations package before the end of the year.
“Why would we want to go into a lame-duck session? I think we ought to do it through March, March 1st,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., who attended the meeting with Cruz on Tuesday. “It only makes sense that we finish our business now and avoid a lame-duck situation with unelected representatives coming back and making big policy decisions.”
“I’m a total March 1st person,” Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann said after the gathering with Cruz. “Listen, we’re not done, because I think the media needs to know that Harry Reid has a plan. He’s got a plan, he’s committed. He wants to make sure that we’re going to have a brand new, never-before-seen Internet tax.”
“The American people are going to go crazy when they find out that that’s his Christmas gift to America,” Bachmann said.
Bachmann was referring to the possibility of moving legislation in the post-election session known as the Marketplace Fairness Act, which provides for Internet retailers to collect sales taxes from jurisdictions where purchases are made. The legislation passed the Senate with support and opposition on both sides of the aisle, with particular opposition from lawmakers from states without sales taxes.
That group includes Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., who told CQ Roll Call after an event at a manufacturing facility in the Granite State last month that she was talking about the issue with constituents and would push against the lame-duck strategy.
“You know, the Internet Tax Freedom Act comes up, it expires in November, which for 16 years you haven’t been taxed when you get on the Internet. There’s broad bipartisan support for that,” Ayotte said. “There have been some who have been trying to push the sort of shenanigans I see of doing a short-term extension of that so you can attach the Marketplace Fairness in lame duck. I think otherwise they couldn’t get it done, because the votes aren’t there in the House.”
The continuing resolution unveiled Tuesday evening by the House included the shorter extension of the moratorium on Internet access taxes.
Matt Fuller contributed to this report.
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