While not a perfect metaphor, I can’t help but think of due dates and assignments as the fiscal cliff drama continues to unfold today. The latest has it that the House Republicans are not happy with the deal that the Senate passed earlier this morning and that they want to make amendments. Under normal circumstances, this is perfectly normal. The two chambers often make amendments to the bills the other has passed and then approve/disapprove, accordingly.
However, this time, it feels more like House Republicans have waited until the extreme last minute to complete their assignment… but now aren’t happy with the way that it looks. Everyone has known that the sequester has been in place for over a year (!) back when there was an agreement on the debt ceiling fight. There’s been plenty of time to craft a bill that everyone can agree to and avoid this New Year‘s Day farce. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happened.
In the last few days, the Speaker of the House said — essentially — that it was up to the Senate to pass a bill, so that the House could then vote on said bill. So, that’s exactly what the Senate did last night (or earlier this morning, depending on how you refer to the hours after midnight). As an aside, a huge thank you to all the Senate staffers who had to work through New Year’s eve. I can’t imagine that it was what they thought they’d be doing to ring in 2013. The Senate passed the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support — 89 (out of 100) Senators voted for it.
So, now it’s up to the House to bring the bill to the floor and have a majority of it members vote to pass the bill. Unfortunately, the House Republicans want to amend the bill. They don’t like what’s in it. They don’t think it should pass as is. As I said earlier, under normal circumstances, this would be perfectly normal. However, the circumstances aren’t normal. The “due date” for this “assignment” was last night at midnight (and they didn’t hand it in on time). There’s a “hand it in late deadline” of Thursday and it looks like, if things continue the way they are continuing, that they’re going to blow right through that deadline, too. I certainly hope not.
When you’ve waited ’til the last minute to complete an assignment, you only have a certain number of hours to work with to get it done (I’m sure you’ve all had the experience of working on an assignment the night before [or the morning of] it’s due). It might not be your best work, but depending on the policies in the syllabus, you don’t necessarily have the option of delaying and handing it in well after the deadline. This is what’s happening today in Congress. The House needs to bring the bill to the floor and pass it — posthaste.