Big-Spending Republicans Join Democrats for $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill

Remember the “do-nothing Congress”? Don’t you miss it?

The Hill ran the headline, “Negotiators see $1.1T deal in sight.”

Bipartisan negotiators hammering out the details of a sweeping $1.1 trillion spending bill see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Compromise has come slowly as the sides have haggled over partisan policy amendments as well as a separate package — running on a parallel track — to extend a long list of tax breaks to businesses and individuals alike.

But House aides familiar with the talks said it’s likely the spending legislation will emerge on Tuesday, and Senate leaders expressed a similar optimism on Monday afternoon.

“They’ve made a lot of progress in recent days,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the chamber floor. “We’ll continue to consult and engage with colleagues as we make further progress on these last two significant items we must complete this year.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) echoed that message. He emphasized that “we’re not there yet,” but said both sides are working hard to forge a compromise, which he’s hoping will be unveiled “sooner rather than later.”

“Many of us in the Senate and the House and our staffs worked through the weekend and have made a lot of progress,” Reid said. “Keeping the federal government open and funded is a congressional responsibility. I’m confident we will fulfill that most basic constitutional duty.”

Funding the government is “the most basic constitutional duty.” Does that mean that Reid believes he has a duty to agree with Republican spending priorities (pretending that the Republican majority has different spending priorities)? Of course not. It never works that way. What Reid means is that Republicans have a duty to agree with him.

Both chambers last week passed a five-day continuing resolution, or CR, to buy negotiators more time to hash out an agreement that can pass through Congress and win President Obama’s signature. If lawmakers fail to act before Thursday, large parts of the government would shut down — a scenario both McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have vowed to prevent.

By accepting responsibility for preventing a shutdown, Mitch McConnell and Ryan have both given the upper hand to Reid. Objectively, a government shutdown would be the responsibility of both parties, but the media, the Democrats, and the Republican leadership have agreed to pretend it is always the GOP’s fault.

That way they can pretend they were forced to go along with Democrats spending. This is why Harry Reid is still running Congress even though his party is in the minority.