The bills that are currently funding federal agencies are set to expire in late March, and federal employees and contractors are waiting for word from Congress about how lawmakers will move forward. The development of funding bills has been fraught with partisanship and impasse in the past few years, and now Maryland's Sen. Barbara Mikulski is set to play a key role. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, talks about the details.
On what role Sen. Barbara Mikulski will have on the bills that are currently funding the federal government: "She has committed to what she calls 'doing things the old-fashioned way.' She calls it regular order. That essentially means doing what the civics textbook says you're supposed to do, which is take up each of the bills individually. There are supposed to be 12 different bills that fund the federal government -- they're all supposed to be done through the House, through the Senate, negotiated and passed by the end of each fiscal year. That hasn't happened in more than 10 years. And Sen. Mikulski says that's going to be different under her stewardship. She is committed to getting each of those bills through the Senate each year. It's a tall order. She proved that she meant what she said... when the Senate debated that Sandy supplemental bill... she ran that bill with military precision and was given high marks by her colleagues for getting it through so quickly."
On how much progress lawmakers have made this year: "None... by law the budget from the White House is due today. The president is not going to submit the budget today, nor for probably another couple of months. And that's because of all the built up delays we've been talking about all fall. He's not going to finish developing his budget for another month, and by that point Congress is going to be worried about getting the spending done just for the last month. Just to remind people, in seven weeks -- March 27 -- all of the temporary spending that's been keeping the government agencies open since Oct. 1 will expire."
On Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's new book, and what it means for his run for governor: "When I read those excepts over the weekend, I was kind of reminded of the Barry Goldwater line about extremism and the defense of virtue is no vice. Cuccinelli seems to be totally unapologetic... he's totally sticking with his emphatic Tea Party conservatism. He seems unafraid of running for governor on the very conservative side, in part because he doesn't really seem to have much of a challenger for the Republican nomination. But this kind of approach is very worrying to national Republicans."
Listen to the full analysis here.