by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Business as usual has returned to Capitol Hill. At the end of the old year, Congress presented and President Barack Obama signed a $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriation to cover expenses through Sept. 30 of the new year, and a companion bill to provide more than $600 billion in special-interest tax subsidies over the next 10 years.
For another year, the government will be able to keep on doing what it has been doing so unsuccessfully all these years. And the tax bill restores some of the more egregious handouts in the tax code.
Thus, in this election year of conflict that looks meaner than usual, House Speaker Paul Ryan has built a shelter from the storm. Republican Ryan reached a legislative peace agreement with Democrats in the House, the Senate, and the White House that should hold until after the November election.
The deal to pass an appropriations bill was simple: Republicans would take extreme parts of their agenda out of the spending bill and Democrats would provide the votes needed to pass it over the objections of the most aggressive Republicans.
The deal was also a stunning reversal: It was essentially the one that former Speaker John Boehner could have cut on any day in 2015, if some members of the fractious Freedom Caucus would have allowed it.
In each house, Democrats provided more votes for the spending bill than Republicans did. After all, it did not repeal Obamacare, enact general tax-rate cuts, block payments to the U.N. climate-change fund, or limit immigration.