On the Hill: A Week for the Strong
If you thought funding one government agency was tough, try funding 11! That’s the colossal chore awaiting Congress when members touch down after a two-week recess next week. While a string of short-term resolutions have let leaders postpone the messy budget fight, the sand is running out of the hourglass on the latest deal. Leaders have until next Friday to keep the lights on in Washington — no small feat with parties as far apart on spending priorities as these two. Still, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) plan to beat the clock by bundling almost a dozen spending bills into one big omnibus bill.
For Congress, which isn’t usually the most efficient, this is usually the preferable way to pass a lot of agencies’ budgets in one fell swoop. But that doesn’t mean that piecing together the final product is easy — or tidy. Usually, the two parties are bickering over everything from spending levels to policy riders (and rarely coming to any agreement). With just four working days to tie a bow on the proposal, members will have to get in a cooperative mood faster than usual. Making matters even more interesting, the GOP will need a handful of Democrats to board the omnibus to even have a chance at passage. “The spending bill to fund the government through September 30 obviously is one that cannot be done by one party alone,” McConnell told reporters before Easter. “It will require, as is the Senate’s tradition, bipartisan involvement. And we are optimistic we’ll be able to work all that out and meet the deadline at the end of the month.”
Still stinging from the Neil Gorsuch confirmation, no one knows exactly how obliging Democrats will be. It’s not uncommon for either party to play hardball with government funding to make a political statement, but neither party has the stomach for another shutdown. When Congress starts to barrel through the appropriations process on Tuesday, the biggest brawl may be over spending levels. To the Democrats’ disgust, President Trump is requesting a $30 billion bump in defense dollars and another $3 billion for a border security and a Mexican wall — a nonstarter for Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). And while the White House is offering $18 billion in cuts to offset the hike, liberals are demanding the same amount in non-defense spending. So much for drama-free legislating!
Even without those snags, slogging through the thousands of pages of financial fine print will be tough enough. That’s why some experts are predicting a familiar scene: another week-long budget patch to give members more time to work through their differences. If it comes to that, Congress would keep its 19-year procrastination streak intact. The last time members didn’t need a continuing resolution to budget was 1996! And, unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier from here. Believe it or not, the chambers are already behind on the FY 2018 appropriations. If they have any hope of getting Congress back on a schedule of routine governing, leaders will have to hit the ground running.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of other things creeping up on leadership next week — including a possible second crack at Obamacare repeal. With members working through the recess on solutions, our friends on the Hill tell us the House is close to a deal that could finally topple President Obama’s biggest mistake and replace it with a pro-life system that keeps health care costs down for families and defunds abortion groups like Planned Parenthood. Although the details aren’t certain, one thing is: It’s going to be a busy week in Washington!
Originally published here.
The Dollars and Census Behind Marriage Rates
Failure to Launch isn’t just a movie starring Matthew McConaughey. It’s a real-life scenario featuring millions of young Americans, new Census data tells us. Saddled with massive student loans and the high costs of living, more Millennials are living at home than ever before. In fact, the agency says, “There are now more young people [aged 18-34] living at home than in any other arrangement.” What’s more, the study goes on, “almost nine in 10 young people who were living in their parents’ home a year ago are still living there today, making it the most stable living arrangement.”
The trend is outpacing marriage in record numbers. A whopping 22.9 million of this age bracket have moved back home, compared to the 19.9 million who are married and living with their spouse. That’s a huge drop-off from the mid-1970s when 31.9 million Americans tied the knot and started homes of their own. And while people are still getting married – much later in life — it takes until age 45 for eight in 10 people to say “I do” now.
A lot of the blame, Census experts say, can be pinned on the economy. “In 1975, only 25 percent of men aged 25-34 had incomes of less than $30,000 per year. By 2016, that share rose to 41 percent of young men.” And that drop-off isn’t just affecting Millennials. As we know from stacks of social science data, when people put off marriage, they put off childbearing too. That not only makes it difficult for couples to have large families (which keeps our population at replacement levels), but it postpones the cultural evolution that happens when people have children and see the truth represented in conservative ideals.
For the Left, this is fantastic news. Liberals know that weakened families benefit Big Government. FRC’s Peter Sprigg wonders if this same dependence on parents also leads to that same dependence on government, because, as he points out, “six of the seven states with the highest percentage of young people living at home voted Democratic in last year’s presidential election (New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Florida, California, Rhode Island – only Florida voted Republican), while all of the six states with the lowest percentage living at home voted Republican (North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, and Montana).” What’s also been overlooked in a lot of these headlines is that the fastest growing living arrangement is cohabitation — which was 12 times more likely in 2016 than in 1975. The report explains that “young adults are still starting relationships at the same age that their parents did, but they are trading marriage for cohabitation.”
In other words, couples living together (whether married or cohabiting) still outnumber those living with their parents. Unfortunately, other research has made clear that shacking up is not only a less stable arrangement, but it also doesn’t offer the same benefits that marriage does. It’s fine to value education and economic security as milestones of adulthood, but we literally cannot afford to forget: Marriage and parenthood remain key sources of well-being for individuals and society alike.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC. Reprinted by permission.