Republican Shenanigans, Part 364

REPUBLICAN SHENANIGANS, PART 364….You all remember the rule for budget reconciliation bills, don’t you? Sure you do. The basic agreement is that they can’t be filibustered (gotta pass a budget, after all) but that the bill can only include things that actually have an impact on the budget. Otherwise congressional leaders would just toss everything in the world into each year’s budget bill in order to avoid the possibility of filibuster.

Today, Mark Schmitt explains how the Republican leadership managed to figure out a way to stuff increased work requirements for welfare recipients into this year’s budget bill:

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that we all agreed that the work requirements for welfare recipients should be even tighter than they are. You could increase them somewhat, all states would comply, and people on welfare would work more. But that would have no budget impact. You couldn’t get away with sneaking it into budget reconciliation.

Or, you could increase the requirements to a ridiculous level, where states would find it easier to pay a fine than to spend what it takes to get people working….The result: Now you have a budget impact and you can sneak welfare reauthorization into the budget reconciliation bill. But welfare recipients in those states that don’t comply won’t work more. In fact, they’ll probably work even less than they would under the first plan.

Charming, isn’t it? Republicans deliberately tightened the requirements so much that they knew lots of states wouldn’t comply. Result: they get to look tough on welfare, they get to use budget reconciliation rules to pass a bill that has nothing to with the budget, and they end up having less actual impact on work requirements than if they’d taken the whole thing seriously in the first place. It’s as if they wanted to reduce speed limits in Washington DC and decided to reduce them to 15 mph solely because that would generate lots of fines and would therefore have a budget impact.

Your Republican party at work.