Although we are 162 days into the fiscal year, the federal government still does not have an approved budget. Just… incredibly frustrating.
As school kids know, Congress has the responsibility to appropriate funds for the government to spend. It's right there in Article 1 of the Constitution. But this year -- and let's not mince words -- lawmakers have fallen down on the job.
"This is a measure that indicates they [lawmakers] are not doing well," said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. "Polarization in Congress is so extreme, and this reflects the difficulty lawmakers face in making decisions."
Of course, short-term spending bills are nothing new. Congress has enacted at least one every year for all but three of the past 30. But five in one year? How did it come to this?
President Obama first proposed a budget for fiscal year 2011 on Feb. 1, 2010. That was 404 days ago.
If the process worked as designed, Congress would have taken a look at the president's suggestions. Lawmakers on the budget committees would have set target spending levels, and appropriations committees would have hammered out spending plans to fit.