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How the Hell Do They Fund the Gov’t? A Case Study in Dysfunction

by Countable | Updated on 7.9.18

The fireworks in Congress over federal spending the last two weeks have been the latest installment in a seemingly perpetual struggle between lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to fund their policy priorities while keeping the government from shutting down. Indeed, both the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that will be signed into law this week, and the seven day stopgap that preceded it are emblematic of the breakdown of the appropriations process.

It’s been a long time — more than 20 years — since Congress last passed all of the 12 regular appropriations bills that are supposed to be enacted for each fiscal year, and it’s only happened four times since the 1977 fiscal year. That has forced Congress to rely on omnibus appropriations bills which combine all 12 into one piece of legislation, and continuing resolutions to fill in the gaps between the passage of the lengthier omnibus bills (sometimes for only a few days).

To illustrate how erratic the appropriations process has been in recent years, we’ve chronicled the bills that have funded the federal government since the last Congress began in January 2015 below.

H.R. 83: Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (December 16, 2014 - September 30, 2015)

H.R. 719: Continuing Appropriations Act, 2016 (September 30, 2015 - December 11, 2015)

H.R. 2250: Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2016 (December 11, 2015 - December 16, 2015)

H.J.Res. 78: Making Further Continuing Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2016 (December 16, 2015 - December 22, 2015)

H.R. 2029: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (December 18, 2015 - September 30, 2016)

H.R. 5325: Continuing Appropriations Act, 2017 (September 28, 2016 - December 9, 2016)

H.R. 2028: Continued Health Benefits for Miners Act (December 9, 2016 - April 28, 2017)

H.J.Res. 99: Continued Health Benefits for Miners Act (April 27, 2017 - May 5, 2017)

H.R. 244: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (May 4, 2017 - September 30, 2017)

H.R. 601: Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2017 (September 8, 2017 - December 8, 2017)

H.J.Res. 123: Making further continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2018 (December 9, 2017 - December 22, 2017)

H.R. 1370: CHIP and Public Health Funding Extension Act (December 23, 2017 - January 19, 2018)

Government Shutdown (January 20, 2018 - January 22, 2018)

H.R. 195: Federal Register Printing Savings Act (January 23, 2018 - February 8, 2018)

Government Shutdown (Early morning hours of February 9, 2018)

H.R. 1892: Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (February 9, 2018 - March 23, 2018)

H.R. 1625: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (March 22, 2018 - September 30, 2018)

Tell your lawmakers what you about how the appropriations process has functioned recently using the "Take Action" button.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: U.S. Capitol via Flickr / Public Domain)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(20)
  • Dave
    05/04/2017
    ···

    To repeal and replace Obamacare is nothing more than to put in place a death panel program for the disabled, retired, poor, pre-existing conditions, single parent and others. Millions will loose their healthcare, older people the cost will go up! At best this is the GOP corporation cutting its loses and rewarding it board of directors, the 1%. This will pushes the cost to the state, with out 100% funding. $8 billion is not enough to even cover haft the pre-existing condition high risk pool. Welcome to government ran as a business. All that the American people can do is vote out the incompetence and force congress to impeach the rest! America has got too many corporate wackos in government! There needs to be a separation of corporations and states. Your freedom of speech and right are being tread on, a woman is convicted for launching at Jeff Session and face a year in prison. The American electorate voted for a dictator and his staff!

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  • verymary
    05/04/2017
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    This morning I watched Paul Ryan completely reverse his own health care stance from 2007. Then I remembered how he has learned to kowtow to Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump. I thought of the dishonorable way in which our new Supreme Court justice was shoved into office. I considered our President's fondness for murderous dictators and his disinterest in the details of his own party's Congressional bills. It seems sadly obvious that America, like Rome once upon a time, is burning.

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  • Jean
    05/04/2017
    ···

    Time to put Country first. We the People are angry. The President cannot fulfill the duties of his office. Fire him!

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  • Craig
    05/04/2017
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    The dysfunction around federal funding is simply indicative of the partisan politics that has infected D.C. over the last couple of decades. We can't fix the appropriations process until politicians leave the ideologue perch and do what is best for all Americans through mutual respect and the artful use of compromise.

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  • Nancy
    05/04/2017
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    Your job is to fund and operate the government. You know this and yet every time there's a deadline you scramble as if it was a huge surprise. When will we have a Congress that functions efficiently, collaboratively, without partisan politics and actually gets things done? Maybe after the midterm elections in 2018?

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  • Don
    05/04/2017
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    When a family fails to support and care for one another we call it dysfunctional. When the congress fails to support and care for those that elect its members - it's called A Republican Majority. As a registered voter that votes in every election, city, state and national, I expect better from my representatives. I expect them to listen to their constituents, all of them. Do not vote for repeal and replacement of the ACA. Instead encourage your colleagues to reform and improve it. Voting for the majorities plan will displace many thousands of your constituents and many of them vote.

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  • Tyler.Liberty
    05/04/2017
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    I think the shutdowns are proof that government is too big and unruly. Our country, founded in liberty, was not meant to run everyone's lives or take care of them all. These massive programs are hard to pass and harder to sustain. I'm glad there is friction-and hope there is always resistance.

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  • operaman
    05/04/2017
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    If a leak appears during a submarine dive, PLEASE don't try to form a committee.

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  • Lillian
    05/04/2017
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    Congress could give up their great salaries and benefits. That would help the rest if the populous receive what they need.

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  • Carol
    05/04/2017
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    Why is it that when the democrats have the votes the republicans want a balanced budget but when they have the majority they want to put our children in bondage so they can give tax breaks to the rich and corporate donors.

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  • Dorothy
    05/04/2017
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    No! No! No! Do not vote for this monstrosity! You are supposed to be working for your constituents, not Donald Trump!! Act like it! Don't vote for this obscenity!

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  • Ticktock
    05/04/2017
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    It's us. The citizens of the US. The disfunction of our government is a reflection of the division amongst the people who vote for members of Congress and the President. We are now able to scrutinize every word they say, every vote they make and every aspect of their public and private life. Since the advent of the computer, internet and mass media citizens have been able to stalk their representatives every move with the implied threat that if they deviate from our ideals we'll vote them out. Our representatives respond to this threat by being ideologist, intransigence and ever increasing polarization. Their response is to become so defensive, ideological and unwillingness to cooperate with others with differing views it borders on paranoia. The result is a dysfunctional Congress and President. The issue of term limits become very important. If a representative knows going in that the time in Congress is limited. The incentive to protect their turf would be limited. As for the President, maybe we should adopt an aspect used by other western governments: a vote of no confidence and recall. More importantly US citizens must be willing to compromise and we must demand that our representatives must be willing to compromise for the greater benefit of the country as a whole. Lastly we the citizens must recognize that we all need a functioning Congress and we must accept the compromises that our representatives make on our behalf. After all we put them there and if we expect them to do their job we need to give them space to do it without any implied threats.

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  • Stephan
    05/04/2017
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    By cutting military spending and putting a temporary cap on it. And taking the loop holes out that benefit the rich. Because the companies that were here are shipping there factories overseas or other countries because aren't coming back to the U.S., they just want to do business in the U.S

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  • Ingrid
    05/09/2017
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    After cutting taxes and repealing and replacing the ACA, you reps need to balance the budget and rein in our debt. Abolish the IRS, flat tax 10% I know you can do it. Cut off funding to countries that don't share our freedoms. Stop money to Pakistan. Stand behind India.

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  • Nancy
    05/04/2017
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    The quick and easy answer is they don't...😡

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  • voicepro
    05/06/2017
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    It is obvious that the President ONLY wants eyes of his dysfunctional personality. He just loves conflict so HE has been called mentality ill by professionals and I WANT a functioning president.

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  • Rosie
    05/04/2017
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    Sad!!!

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  • Dave
    05/04/2017
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    Who says the GOP and the president can not be dysfunctional?

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  • Kelly.Quilter
    09/02/2017
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    Important to all work together to keep federal government functioning, to keep ACA properly funded, and to foster unity after the terrible losses from hurricane. But, others in our vast and wonderful country are also hurting. Infrastructure, health, jobs, education, military forces and their families, our national parks. It seems that conservatives in our land do not know the meaning of conserve. We must save and repair what is broken and encourage our congress, courts and administrators to work as a united body to serve us, their employers. And I do mean EVERYONE!

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  • Lauren
    05/04/2017
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    Quoting another: "On Countable, Nancy wrote: "Your job is to fund and operate the government. You know this and yet every time there's a deadline you scramble as if it was a huge surprise."

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