Saturday, October 09, 2010

Republican House Leadership to Texas: Use It or Lose It

Back in September, September 14th to be specific, Texas’ junior senator, John Cornyn submitted Senate Bill 3774, a bill to extend the deadline – a fast approaching deadline – for expenditure of funds under the Social Services Block Grant of 2008. This was a small part of a huge bundle of bills rolled up into HR 2638 and was meant to provide funds for “health services (including mental health services), and for repair, renovation, and construction of health care facilities (including mental health facilities), child care centers, and other social services facilities” that were affected by major disasters (like Hurricane Ike).

But apparently it had one small problem. The deadline extension specified in Cornyn’s bill, September 30, 2012, was too long. So on September 29th, in a move to save his bill and get it passed, Cornyn introduced an amendment to move the deadline up one year, to September 30, 2011. He also inserted language to put his bill in compliance with the recently passed Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010.

The amendment passed and Cornyn’s bill, specifically meant to keep unspent but allocated funds available for expenditure for another year, something to the tune of $40,000,000, was passed in the Senate by unanimous consent on that very day.

The Senate sent the bill to the House, and they asked for unanimous approval as well, I guess to speed it along. The deadline was that very day, September 30, 2010.

And it was there, in the House Appropriations Committee, that the bill was killed.

By Republicans.

Here is an account of this in the Houston Chronicle. In summary, it looks like “Republican leadership” decided that if Texas couldn’t spend its disaster money in two years it obviously didn’t need the money.

There was also a concern, one that we hear often repeated, that the bill was coming to them just before the recess and they didn’t have enough time to study it. My guess is that they were also a little miffed about the unanimous consent request, and probably had a feeling that someone was trying to pull something.

So they killed it.

Finger pointing ensued on Capitol Hill. No one was taking the blame for this. The only thing anyone agreed about was the suddenness of the bill’s appearance. And about the fact that it would only take one objection on the House floor to deny unanimous consent.

So they killed it.

And in so-doing, they added to Texas’ unemployment rolls when the dozens of social services agencies that were to be kept running if the bill passed started laying off their employees this past week.

John Cornyn and Pete Olson are apparently pretty steamed about this. People who had jobs and who were helping others now don’t and aren’t. So now maybe Olson and Cornyn might want to take another look at their same tired old complaint about not wanting to pass a bill before reading all 18,000 pages of it.

When Republicans do that, sometimes people lose their jobs.

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