Montana Politics

The Next Government Shutdown Threat? The First Thing Denny Rehberg’s Done in Washington

While he did it weeks late and without any meaningful public input, Representative Rehberg has finally released his subcommitte’s FY 2012 appropriations bill—and it’s a real piece of work. As The Hill’s Erik Wasson notes, its partisan nature dramatically increases the odds of another government shutdown debacle:

The chances for a protracted government spending battle this fall went up dramatically on Thursday when House appropriators released a labor and health spending bill filled with at least 40 new controversial policy provisions.

The bill, produced by appropriator Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) and not scheduled for a markup, will serve as a marker in negotiations over funding the government after the Senate-passed continuing resolution runs out Nov. 18.

That it’s not scheduled for markup demonstrates the hypocrisy of Rehberg’s constant calls for transparency. A typical appropriations process involves the subcommittee having time to debate, amend, and rewrite proposed legislation, but Rehberg has no interest in his bill being discussed publically, because he knows it has no chance of passing the Senate:

Bill Samuel, the legislative director of the AFL-CIO said unions believe the bill is dead in the Senate but are nonetheless gearing up to prevent any provisions from ending up in a final omnibus spending package.

“I don’t think the Senate will pass any of these. This is political theater. What it may mean is a delay in getting appropriations wrapped up,” he said.

Rehberg—as usual—is talking out of both sides of his mouth. At the same time his bill presents the tired Republican talking points about public television and Planned Parenthood, all to beguile the base, he’s crowing about increases in funding for other programs. There are no principles here, just politics—politics that will push Congress to the brink one more time.

Finally, an achievement from Congressman Rehberg.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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