‘Continuing Resolutions’ in Larger Global and Historical Context

October 2, 2013

Mark Steyn has some interesting thoughts on recent parliamentary maneuverings in Congress.

Andrew C. McCarthy, after discussing the relevant history forcefully and at length, concludes,

The American people do not want Obamacare, and the representatives closest to them have voted not to spend the people’s money on it. According to the Constitution, that should be the end of the matter.

Matthew J. Franck argues (more briefly) that “This is a wholly new constitutional theory; I have certainly never encountered it.”

(For whatever it’s worth, McCarthy’s credentials include his having served as a prominent federal prosecutor and as a law professor.  It’s not clear to me what Franck’s are.  He does claim to have taught courses on “the Congress” “numerous times”.  National Review Online, unfortunately, seems to have his bio mixed up with that of a Mark Finkelstein—oops.)

Mark Steyn brings his characteristic big-picture perspective.  On the larger Anglosphere parliamentary tradition:

As I say, I am no U.S. Constitutional scholar. But, had the British or Canadian House of Commons, the Australian or Fijian House of Representatives, the Indian Lok Sabha, the Dáil Éireann, the Bahamian or Bermudan House of Assembly, etc, etc, etc, voted as the U.S. House of Representatives did, that would indeed be the end of the matter.

(Read the whole thing: “A Privilege of the Commons”)

On recent American history (quoting Angelo M. Codevilla, who reviews the history):

Nowadays however our bipartisan ruling class limits the Congress’ opportunity to approve, disapprove, or modify what the government does, to voting on “Continuing Appropriations Resolutions” — single, all-inclusive bills crafted behind closed doors. Then it cynically asks the people’s representatives: “will you agree to laws no one has read, to programs on the continuation of which you have not voted, and to regulations that haven’t been written yet, or will you shut down the government?” This turns democracy into a choice between tyranny and anarchy.

(Read the whole thing: “The Resolutionary War”)

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8 Responses to “‘Continuing Resolutions’ in Larger Global and Historical Context”


    • Sure, how about “Republicans do what’s best for the country rather than what’s politically expedient”?

      • Snoodickle Says:

        Wait, wait, wait, wait, hold on there slugger. The whole point of this post is that the House of Representatives is supposed to carry out the wishes of the people, not do what the legislators think best for the country. (You must subscribe to the entrusted guardian view of legislative governance). The people, for better or worse, decide what is best for the country, not the legislators who represent them. So, if the people don’t want the House to shut down the government to gain leverage in the fight to repeal Obamacare, then the House should carry out those wishes. I haven’t seen a 180 this big since the Romneycare fiasco. (Incidentally, the people resoundingly decided to reelect the author of Obamacare – President Obama, for those who don’t know. Apparently the people’s voice in a real life presidential election carries no weight to House Republicans.).

        Also, are you a fortune teller? Obamacare hasn’t even fully taken effect yet and you and every single Republican legislator knows that the health care policies that leading conservative thinkers have been proposing for decades (until Obama proposed them!) won’t work.

        So, to recap, conservatives now know that the health care policies that they championed absolutely will not work before those policies even take effect. Read that last sentence again. You can’t make this stuff up.


      • You can never decide what game you’re playing. I returned one glib one-liner for another. If now you’ve decided you want to have a long, thoughtful discussion instead, you’re going to have to start by actually reading my original post above. You said, “The whole point of this post is that the House of Representatives is supposed to carry out the wishes of the people,” which makes it pretty clear you didn’t read it. If you had said that the “point” of the entry was something about a debate about separation of powers, you would have been at least getting warmer. If you had said that the “point” was that the Democrats’ current line—that the House cannot legitimately deny funding for Obamacare—is the exception rather than the rule in both the historical context of past centuries and the global context of other Anglosphere representative democracies, you would have been pretty close.

        By the way, also if you want to have a thoughtful discussion, you’ll have to link to a source for your claim that “leading conservative thinkers have been proposing” Obamacare “for decades” (hint: you won’t find one, it’s not true).

        I’d be happy to have the debate about the underlying substantive question (the merits of Obamacare), but not here; I decline to follow your change of topic. Anyway we’ve had those arguments elsewhere—e.g., here and here:
        https://enjoymentandcontemplation.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/more-on-obamacare/#comments
        https://enjoymentandcontemplation.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/democrats-dealing-with-the-bureaucracy-is-a-real-burden/#comments

        What I said in one of those still beats the argument you’re trying to make now. You said here,

        “Also, are you a fortune teller? Obamacare hasn’t even fully taken effect yet and you and every single Republican legislator knows that [Obamacare] won’t work.”

        I said a year and a half ago when you made a similar argument,

        “So the arguments for Obamacare, based on projections that it would reduce costs and insure everyone, were totally valid, but the revised projections (including some from the same people who made the original projections) that it won’t insure everyone and will cost vastly more than predicted before are ‘pure speculation’? You can’t have it both ways.”

      • Snoodickle Says:

        Finally, a response!

      • Snoodickle Says:

        Oh, and as to a leading conservative thinker that favored the policy prescriptions in Obamacare, ever heard of Mitt Romney?


  1. […] take a moment to thank you for standing up for me and our fellow Americans. Under the Constitution, appropriations are primarily the House’s responsibility, and of course the government works better when Congress has to evaluate each program individually […]


  2. […] Andrew McCarthy, Mark Steyn, and Angelo Codevilla have argued that spending is properly primarily the purview of the House of Representatives, not the Senate. […]


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