Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

House Sustains Obama Veto of CR; Budgeteers Yawn

The House voted Wednesday to sustain President Obama's veto of a Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded. Huh? Confused? Why wasn't this front-page news Thursday morning? Because what looked important was simply a bit of budget cooperation between the Legislative and Executive branches of government. Congress was following a long-standing tradition in sending the CR down to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. The backstory is more complicated, however and involves a dispute between the branches.

 When the House passed the Defense appropriations bill on Dec. 16, it also passed a five-day Continuing Resolution in case Obama didn't sign the Pentagon bill quickly. The Senate followed suit on Dec. 19. But Obama signed the Defense bill the same day the Senate passed it, so the CR was not needed. In similar cases in the past, Presidents simply have signed the CR. But Obama vetoed it and possibly reignited a constitutional battle between the branches dating back decades by implying that he pocket vetoed it, which can only happen after Congress has adjourned. House leaders decided to sustain the veto, since they believed Obama couldn't pocket veto it.

We'll let the constitutional lawyers continute to fight that battle. But from a budget point of view, it was much ado about nothing.