H.J. Res. 631 – Making Further Continuing Appropriations for FY1983


It was the end of a lame-duck session, the week before Christmas 1982. Only three of the regular appropriations bills for fiscal year 1983 had been enacted. The remaining ten bills were packaged into a $379 billion dollar omnibus measure that was several hundred pages in length. The conference agreement was negotiated in one 12-hour session, and the report was filed the next day at noon on Monday, December 20. Both chambers passed the measure that same day, without ever having a chance to review it. The President signed it into law the next day. Four of the appropriations bills were enacted separately before Congress adjourned for the year, and as such only the remaining six were carried out by H.J. Res. 631. These six bills still represented 78% of Federal appropriations for the year, according to Sen. Thomas Eagleton (D-MO). It was one of the largest appropriations bills ever passed, and the first spending package that used not only a simple continuing resolution formula but the actual conference agreements on several of the appropriations. The measure also contained supplements for departments whose appropriations had already been made, and many unrelated special interest provisions.


    Congress: 97th

    Date: December 20, 1982

    Majority party: Democrats (House), Republicans (Senate)

    Bill sponsor: Rep. Jamie L. Whitten (D-MS)

    Committees of jurisdiction: House Committee on Appropriations, Senate Committee on Appropriations

    President: Ronald Reagan



House action on conference report
No time to read 204-page conference report

    Mon., 12/20/1982 (12:00 PM) — House and Senate conferees file H. Rept. 97-980, the conference report to accompany H.J. Res. 631.
    Mon., 12/20/1982 (12:00 PM) — House begins consideration of H. Rept. 97-980.
    Mon., 12/20/1982 (1:00 PM) — House agrees to conference report by division vote of 232-54. (A division vote counts Members standing, and is not recorded.)

Senate action on conference report
No time to read 204-page conference report

    Mon., 12/20/1982 (12:00 PM) — House and Senate conferees file H. Rept. 97-980
    Mon., 12/20/1982 (2:00 PM) — Senate begins consideration of H. Rept. 97-980. (During debate, Senator Denton says the report was received at 3 PM)
    Mon., 12/20/1982 (5:40 PM) — Senate agrees to conference report by vote of 55-41.



When consideration began, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jamie Whitten (D-MS) gave a summary of the package before the House:

Mr. Speaker, I suppose in all sessions of the Congress there are times when a great amount of work has to be done in a very short order. I bring you this conference report and advise you that the conference was in session from 10 am until 10 pm. All 13 subcommittees were involved to one extent or another. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that in 10 hours we resolved all our differences without fanfare. We reached agreement on 133 amendments, including several extremely controversial issues….
I would like to advise the House that here we have in this conference report all these matters dealing with all phases of the Government, and yet we bring you a bill that is under the committee’s section 302 allocation. Our Committee has done a marvelous job throughout the year under very difficult circumstances, and we are hopeful that this is the last continuing resolution we will have to have. I have discussed it with my colleagues on the committee, and next year we hope to bring up our appropriations bills soon after May 15, and we hope we will not be faced with this type of situation.
Mr. Speaker, the resolution we bring before the House today provides funding authority for eight major appropriations bills for the fiscal year 1983. Projects and activities carried in the Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government bill are provided for at the lower level of the House or Senate. Foreign assistance programs are provided for at a compromise rate contained in the conference report. The conferees also agreed- after much debate- on funding levels for the Department of Defense. The House position provided denying procurement funds for the MX missile. Research and development moneys are provided with certain restrictions. The Commerce, Justice, Senate, and Judiciary programs are provided for at the amounts contained under amendment number 13 as described in the joint explanatory statement.
The District of Columbia and Interior and related agencies appropriations bills are provided for at the rates, and under the terms and conditions set forth in the conference reports on H.R. 7144 and H.R. 7356, respectively. The conference agreements on these two bills have been adopted by both Houses of Congress and it is anticipated both bills will soon be signed into law.
Programs and activities carried in the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies bill are provided for as outlined in the joint explanatory statement under amendments 14 through 23.
The energy and water development bill is provided for at the current rate, with certain exceptions. In addition, the resolution provides approximately $9 billion for assisted housing programs which were deferred during consideration of the regular 1983 HUD Independent Agencies Appropriation Act….
The termination date of the resolution is September 30, 1983, as proposed by the Senate, instead of March 15, 1983, as recommended by the House. Agreement having been reached on the major bills provided for in the resolution, the conferees decided a termination date of September 30, 1983, was the most practical.
One of the overriding concerns of the conferees was that the Attorney General’s ruling requires the orderly shutdown of all nonessential Government activities if appropriations are not enacted. In a mutual realization that ideological differences should not result in the termination of many Government activities, the conferees, I believe, made extra efforts to reach accommodation.

House Appropriations Committee ranking Republican Silvio Conte (R-MA) said:

Mr. Speaker, during my 24 years in this body, I have helped to bring hundreds of conference agreements to this floor….
Not a single one started so badly, and ended so well.
Forty- eight hours ago, this Congress was staggering from comedy to farce. We did not know whether this resolution could even pass the other body, much less get through conference and be signed into law.
Twenty- four hours ago, we went to conference on a resolution which left the House as a prime cut of veto bait, and was almost buried by special interests in the other body.
We disagreed on 133 separate amendments, which covered thousands of individual line items, and included: Members pay, foreign aid, a complete defense bill, including MX, and a jobs bill which the President promised he would veto.
This morning we bring you a responsible conference agreement that should be signed into law- a conference agreement made possible only by political statesmanship of the highest order….
The conference agreement covers six bills for the entire fiscal year: Commerce- Justice, Defense, energy and water development, foreign aid, Labor-HHS, and Treasury….
Since the conference report on the regular fiscal year 1983 Interior and Related Agencies appropriations bill (H. Rept. 97-978) was agreed to in the House on Saturday, December 18, the programs of the Department of Interior and Related Agencies would be continued at that agreed-to conference level in this continuing resolution….
I am pleased to note that the regular fiscal year 1983 bill was signed into law on December 18, thereby eliminating the need to establish a rate of funding for transportation programs in the continuing resolution….
Mr. Speaker, let me say this: Yesterday, the press grabbed me. The TV cameras were there, and the reporters said, “Hey, the jobs bill is going down. This is a great victory. This is a great victory for the President of the United States.”
I say before all my colleagues that this is no victory for the President of the United States, it is no victory for the House of Representatives, and it is no victory for the Senate. Everyone who was involved in this had to compromise.
I hope that the President is going to compromise on the MX missile. No one won on this issue. Everyone was a loser. Everyone walked away disgruntled, hoping that they had something else. But, Mr. Speaker, let me tell the Members one thing: It is the best thing in town today, and we had better vote for it….
What I am trying to say is, after 10 hours you have to look at the entire package. Do you want the entire package? Do you want to bring the Government to a standstill? Do you want to bring the Government to its knees for your particular interest in the package? I would make one suggestion, and one suggestion alone, and I have told that to my good friend from California on the way over here.
I think we learned a lesson. I think we all get smarter the more we go through these things….
I think next year if we get into the same problem and the same issue, either on the continuing resolution or on the water and energy bill, we are going to take some different action than we took this year.

Many times throughout debate, Members noted that the package was a “must-pass” piece of legislation, without which the Government would be shut down. Rep. J.J. Pickle (D-TX) said:

The overwhelming reason for approving this conference report, Mr. Speaker, is that without it, our Government will come to a crashing halt. Unless we approve this resolution, thousands of Federal offices will close and tens of thousands of people will be put out of work.

Rep. Jim Wright (D-TX) echoed:

Mr. Speaker, surely the contents of this conference committee report are not wholly pleasing to anybody. But worse than any of our individual objections would be the consequences of our failure to pass it….
Six of the departments of Government would close down completely. I do not think any of us wants to be responsible for those results…..
So nobody has been a complete winner in this matter, not Democrats, not Republicans, not the House, not the Senate. But the American people clearly would be the losers if in childish obstinacy we were to stamp our feet and hold our breath and in our petty pique refuse to pass the bill because it does not reflect all that is in each of our own wish lists. No one of us can create legislation totally in his or her own image.

During Senate floor debate on the conference report, Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-OR) noted that Senators had not yet received the document:

I thank the leadership for putting this in motion.
Mr. President, we now have before us at long last a conference report on House Joint Resolution 631, the last continuing resolution for the fiscal year 1983.
Mr. President, it has been a very long week for all of us. I do not intend to stand here very long and belabor the Senate with a detailed description of the items contained in the conference report. We are making every effort to get the report duplicated and placed on every Senator’s desk. And I might say that the Senate and the House met in conference yesterday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the staff finished the report about 6 o’clock this morning, having worked all night as they have done on two of the last four nights.
And the service department has been working on this report since 7:30 a.m.
It is a very sizable report, and I understand Members will understand the amount of time necessary to reproduce it.

Policy criticisms by others

Among the key controversial issues contained in the bill was a pay increase for Representatives paired with a lift on the outside income cap for Senators. Rep. Clarence Miller (R-OH) said:

Like everyone else here, I would like to go home for Christmas. The earliest way to be able to go home for Christmas would be to approve this conference report and send it on its way. But I am going to vote against it, and I urge my colleagues to do the same….
The American people are not stingy or mean spirited. But they quite correctly feel that Members of Congress, who daily claim to be concerned about the plight of those who are going through difficult economic times, ought to be willing themselves to make some sacrifices for the common good. If we are not willing to make some sacrifices ourselves, all these speeches about our concern and all our hand-wringing amount to nothing more than empty gestures.
Do you really want your constituents to know that you care about them and about our Nation’s economic difficulties? Then vote against this conference report which allows the congressional pay increase. Actions speak louder than words.

Some Members felt the pay increase for Members was egregious in the face of the jobs bill which had to be cut from the resolution under threat of veto.
Rep. Henry Reuss (D-WI) said:

Mr. Speaker, this post-election session met with high hopes. The Nation on November 2 that it wanted action to combat the worst unemployment we have seen since the Great Depression….
Today, with the Federal establishment shut down, the session draws to a close. The outyear deficit still runs out of control, with the hemorrhage of military spending and revenue losses unabated. The public works and jobs programs have been stricken from the continuing resolution….
The President and Congress gazed eyeball to eyeball, and Congress blinked. The last word from the White House was that it was not sure whether Congress offer of unconditional surrender would be accepted.
We may not even be allowed to keep our horses for the spring plowing.
Never was a prayer more in order. We have left undone those things we ought to have done. We have done those things we ought not to have done. There is no health in us.

Rep. Silvio Conte (R-MA) echoed:

As most of my colleagues know, the conferees agreed last night to delete title II from the continuing resolution. This was not an easy decision for the conferees to make. While that decision makes the way clearer for signature of this continuing resolution downtown, it should not and cannot be regarded as a victory for any one side.
At a time of 10.8- percent unemployment, with more than 12 million people looking for work, and another 2 million that have given up on the job search, any attempt to provide relief and jobs is not to be dismissed lightly. At a time when our industrial capacity is functioning at its lowest level since the Great Depression, any attempt to turn the downward spiral around is not to be disregarded.
The decision made by the conferees was not a decision to dismiss the national tragedy of our unemployed or to disregard their plight. The decision was a realistic appraisal of what could be accomplished in the framework of an emergency bill designed to keep the Government running, and within the short time period we had to enact a bill.

Sen. David Pryor (D-AR) said:

We are giving a salary increase to Members of the House of Representatives. But somehow we are not really answering the needs, especially in this Christmas period, of those who do not have a home and those who literally have nothing to eat. I think we will be judged very harshly for our action, and I think that judgment will be justified.

Sen. Donald Riegle (D-MI) said:

I think it is a tragedy that the jobs part of this bill was tossed over the side. The fact that a pay raise survives and the jobs programs does not is something that cannot be defended….
We have been in session all these hours and all these days. There is an unemployment emergency in the country. We have 12 million people unemployed. If you add the underemployed and even those who dropped out looking for work, we have 20 million people out of work in this country and we are so inept as a Congress that we are unable to come back here, after all these days and all these hours, to pass any kind of a significant jobs initiative….
I do not know how anybody can leave here, when we adjourn and go home for the holidays, knowing what this season is going to be like for so many other millions of people across this country in desperate circumstances and knowing that the only thing that we really managed to do was to take care of the pay issue and a few other miscellaneous issues. We have an enormous continuing resolution. We have not dealt with all the appropriation bills. We are tied in knots here, as others have said, in terms of process with the filibuster and the fact that the rules are designed for obstruction more than they are for progress and for throughput in terms of dealing with problems. But the country is not going to understand this because what we have done has fallen short of what we needed to do. I think it is a shame on the entire institution that this is the situation we find ourselves in.
I express my disappointment. I disassociate myself with it. I am going to vote against this bill. I would like to see it go down. I would like to see us right back in. Let us have more conversations. The White House, the people in the administration, Stockman and his whole crowd, they are all going to get paid through the holidays. Maybe we ought to work through the holidays and see if we can come up with something that is significant. But to go into a conference and cave in and throw the jobs bill over the side because of this pressure or that pressure or this threat or the threat of a veto I just think sells us all short. And in the end it sells the country short. The country has been shortened. It is being shorted by this continuing resolution. It is being shorted by failure to face up to the critical economic problems facing this country. There is no excuse for it, absolutely no excuse for it.

Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-OR) countered Sen. Riegle’s remarks:

I think we have to look clearly and soberly at our options at this particular point in time, and I would say to the Senator that I see no options that we really have until January when the new Congress convenes….
The jobs proposal for this “lame-duck” session is dead, d-e-a-d, and there is no way to resurrect it.
So I think it is only putting a further burden upon the Republic to keep this “lame-duck” session in session longer.
I think the sooner we adjourn and go home the better off the Republic will be….
Let me tell the Senator as chairman of the committee who has been through the torturous process, through many days, weeks, and months, I can tell him my perspective as the one given the leadership to do this that it is not possible. To even convey that idea to the Members of the Senate is a false, false, false idea, and it is not true. I can assure him that….
[I]f the Senator from Michigan wants to really add to the unemployment figures and really wants to bring Government to a halt, then he will vote no.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said:

Mr. President, I intend to vote against the conference report to the continuing resolution, Senate Joint Resolution 631, in part because of a 15-percent pay raise which House Members have insisted on granting themselves and 33,000 senior Federal executives and civil servants. I find this action to be ill times, as well as grossly insensitive to the plight of millions of unemployed and disadvantaged citizens suffering under our crippled economy. It is amazing to this Senator from Iowa that this self-serving pay hike comes as we prepare a stopgap funding measure for the fiscal year 1983, fully aware that the Federal deficit will draw close to $200 billion by the end of the fiscal year….
Yes, Americans will grow weary of our moralizing about the need to control Federal spending, if we fail to show fiscal restraint for ourselves. We cannot expect sacrifice exclusively from the grassroots, while members of Congress attempt to insulate themselves from the pain imposed on others.

Rep. David Bonior (D-MI) said:

Mr. Speaker, last week, an extraordinary event took place in the House. For the first time in memory, a number of amendments were made in order on a continuing resolution. This occurred because of persuasive sentiment in the House that Members were no longer going to swallow distasteful policy and programs without a vote in the name of expediency, that a few chestnuts were not going to be pulled from the fire by playing on the general desire of Members to act responsibly. Seven of the eight amendments made in order passed. The eight failed on a tie vote .
Three amendments were made to order in the area of energy and water resources: To delete funds for the Clinch River breeder reactor and the Garrison Diversion water project so to prevent the expenditure of the funds for the O’Neill irrigation unit in Nebraska. All were adopted in the House, the last two by overwhelming margins.
Despite this, the House conferees receded to Senate language restoring the projects even as the Senate was offering conciliatory language on at least one.
Mr. Speaker, there are two points to be made here: One institutional and the other economic.
First, I think it is fairly obvious that the House Appropriations Committee is no longer representative of the Congress on these issues. That is not an unusual situation. However, the circumvention of the expressed will of the majority first by parliamentary means than by manipulation of time constraints is a device with dangerous ends. Members will recall that is was only through the graces of the Rules Committee that Members were able to vote on these projects at all this year. A groundswell of dissatisfaction is building in the House that could rebound with full fury to permeate and countervene much of the constructive work done by the Appropriations Committee. Members will not suffer for long that their participation in the representative process will be rendered absolutely meaningless.
Second, if we cannot be expected to bring projects such as these to heel in times of fiscal austerity and sacrifice, if we are not allowed to choose between, at best, marginal utility programs and policies, and those of a critical need then we have lost our purpose and place in the fiscal process.
The President has threatened to kill a program that would have provided more than 200,000 jobs while he has lobbied on behalf of the O’Neill project which costs $368 million and benefits 300 people. Like it or nor, we will have embraced those priorities by the continuing resolution. I doubt that there is little else to be done in this instance. However, I hope that enough Members will be revolted by the position to which they have been relegated in the legislative process to put an end to it before this institution loses all credibility as an independent, deliberative, and representative body.

Process criticisms by ReadtheBill.org

Rep. Robert Walker (R-PA) took issue with the procedure used on such a “voluminous” spending package:

Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to check on a couple of things where it is not clear from the volume of paperwork we have before us as to whether or not they were retained….
The other concern I have about the bill is the fact that we are going clear through until September 30, so we are going to have a full year of operations under a continuing resolution. I realize that the committee worked hard and did the very best it could under very difficult circumstances, but I think as a matter of policy we are making very basic decisions about a lot of programs, sending them all through for the full year with no chance to come back and review them in the next Congress. That does give this gentleman some pause, that we are operating in such a way on $450 billion in spending.

Rep. Silvio Conte (R-MA) agreed with Walker, but noted the Defense portion of the bill had gone through a more thorough process:

Mr. Speaker, let me tell the gentleman from Pennsylvania, first of all that I appreciate his cooperation. Second, let me say that I could not agree with him more on the continuing resolution. Members have heard me on the floor time and time again say that this is a poor way to run the Government. I hope that we do something with regard to the Budget Act. This committee was ready with bills, and we could not report these bills because the budget resolution had not been adopted. Unless something is done, Government is going to be paralyzed and be brought to its knees. But there is one good thing about extending the resolution to the end of the year. As I said in the well of the House, on the defense portion of this bull, the gentleman from Alabama, MR. JACK EDWARDS, the gentleman from New York, MR. JOE ADDABBOO, and TED STEVENS in the Senate went through the defense bill item by item, so the bill that is in the continuing resolution would be exactly the same defense bill that would have been passed had it been approved by the House and the Senate.

Rep. Joseph McDade (R-PA) said:

I have been privileged to be a Member of this body for 20 years and a member of the Committee on Appropriations for 18 years. I do not believe I have ever engaged in a more arduous exercise than the one we were compelled to engage in on this continuing resolution….
None of us want to proceed on a continuing resolution but this is where we are. All of us know that if we had our druthers we would have the individual bills here. But we do not.

Rep. Robert Edgar (D-PA) said:

Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to take a document of this size and review it in the very few minutes that we have to review the legislation and make a decision as to whether you are for it or against it.
I would like to simply say that I think that the conference committee had a very difficult task.

Rep. Jack Kemp (R-NY) said:

The manner in which we have considered and by which, I believe, we will adopt House Joint Resolution 631 represents a failure of our legislative process.
In the normal course of House consideration of appropriation bills, each member would have an opportunity to weigh carefully the provisions of the legislation and to make contributions to items which that Member felt were not in the interests of the country. By lumping not only appropriations but many authorizations into one omnibus piece of legislation we have removed that careful oversight. Even as a member of the conference committee, I was unable to monitor all of the mini conference and private negotiations through which decisions were made. Several items in which I had a distinct personal interest were decided and included in the final legislation while I worked on the legislation for the subcommittee on which I serve.
Legislating in this manner does not serve the people well. This is the people’s branch of the Government and I believe that the people we serve expect and deserve better than we are giving in House Joint Resolution 631. I compliment the chairman and ranking member for their hard work, patience, and dedication. I respect them very much.

Sen. William Proxmire (D-WI) said:

Mr. President, the conference report on the continuing resolution as it sits on each Senate desk today is probably the most voluminous and complex conference report ever filed by an appropriations conference in the long history of the Congress. It represents a huge series of compromises with the House on subjects as diverse as funding for abortions, a Federal pay raise, and an MX missile basing plan.
As we all know the conference had to deal with at least a dozen highly controversial issues. Many of them never should have arisen in connection with a continuing resolution, which was originally devised as a means of extending the operations of the Government for a relatively short period of time while we dealt with the regular appropriations bills. However, these issues have been forced upon us by our refusal as a body to abstain from adding everything but the kitchen sink to this sort of appropriations measure.
I am sure that several Members feel that we conferees should have done much better. I wish they could have been with us in the conference so that they could have experienced the pressures and difficulties created by the fact that the Government closed down at midnight on Friday and that to avoid a disastrous interruption in Federal operation we had to come forth with a conference report in less than 24 hours.
Mr. President, I take no pride in this product. But given the legislative mess we had to deal with in conference and the short time period in which we had to act, I think it is about the best compromise we could come up with, especially if we were to avoid a veto that would delay Federal agency operations even further….
[W]e should not have a continuing resolution at all. It is a mark of failure on our part. We have to acknowledge that.
We have to acknowledge that. This continuing resolution, as the Senator points out, goes for the whole year. It means there will be no careful, deliberate consideration by all Senators of the biggest domestic bill we have, Health and Human Services, no careful, deliberate-we should have several days, maybe 3 or 4 days’ consideration on the military aspect. We will not have that at all. It means we put it all together; then in a nightmare session of 36 hours or so, try to do the whole thing at once, covering all the appropriations. They cover relatively small matters, but take up a great deal of time.

Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) said, “I think the Senator agrees with me that that probably is the worst way to run Government and the worst way to appropriate.”

Sen. David Pryor (D-AK) said:

I think if one inscription or one thought remains after this session finally concludes, if it ever does, it will be that of the great philosopher, Pogo, who said, “I have just met the enemy, and they is us.”
We are our own worst enemy. Frankly, I think if the Government continued to run, that might be worthwhile. But I am beginning to wonder whether the Senate ought to continue to run. I think that is how frustrated a lot of us are.
It is not frustration with the people, it is frustration with the system. It is the system we have to change.
The problem is, we get to this point, we see all the problems in the system, we worked all night long, all week long, our families forget we even exist. The whole thing breaks down. Then we come back in January and forget how terrible it was. We forget the pressure.
The time to correct the system, I think, is eventually going to be in one of those long, all-night sessions when the pressure is on. That is probably how we are going to have to change the rules of this body so we can carry out the business of the country and so our procedures can be conformative with our century.

An exchange between Sens. Jeremiah Denton (R-AL) and Mark Hatfield (R-OR) illustrated the size of the conference report:

How many pages are in the conference report?

I think the Senator has a copy of it on his desk. We were not able to number the pages.

Several hundred would be a pretty good estimate.

I would think that is probably true.

I do not think it should be surprising to anyone that those Senators who have problems or potential problems with this have not yet come up with their prepared statements. I think, in all fairness, I should say, on behalf of some of them, that they are indeed going to make emphatic statements on the floors and are not just delaying for the purpose of being annoying. They are trying to understand the fine print. They are trying to understand the report language, as opposed to the language in the bill itself.

There was some discussion of how long the President would take in signing the bill, and several Senators implied there would be a delay of two days as a means of political leverage for another pending bill. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) defended the Administration’s right to take time to review it:

I served downtown in the administration in other days, and I know how long it takes to build up enrolled bill reports. The way we did this thing so fast we are not sure that there are not errors in this bill. I think it tis incumbent upon us to give the President of the United States a chance to review this bill and not to start talking about some rubber stamping because we want to get home for Christmas.
We knew what we were doing when we sent this bill down or we will when we send it down now. They do not even know what the final terms are there yet, and when it gets down there they have a right to review it, and I would be astounded if any President of the Untied States signed a bill of this size without some reviewing of it by the Attorney General and the departments involved….
When the President receives it he must have it reviewed. I want you to know I was on the committee and I am still trying to make certain that the language that is in this bill is what we agreed on last night. I have got people in the office back there right now checking it over trying to make certain.
I am fairly certain the administration is going to check it over word for word because there are some very important programs here, and if they are not the way we thought they were, I might be the one to ask him to veto it because we had some agreements, and I want to make sure they are in this bill.

Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) said, “We have 4 hours [for debate], and I hope we give the President at least the same time we give ourselves to review it.”

Sen. John Tower (R-TX) said:

Mr. President, I take no pleasure in feeling compelled to say what I am about to say in registering my displeasure with the legislative process that has caused the situation which we find ourselves in with the conference report on the continuing resolution, House Joint Resolution 631.
During the last week, many of us, including members of the Appropriations Committee, have criticized the process of continuing appropriations bills. Personally, I see no reason why many more appropriations bills, including the defense bill, could not have been enacted. By the way, I do not blame the Appropriations Committee for that….
I have had only a few minutes to review this lengthy conference report as it applies to defense. I think it is irresponsible of us to pretend that we are making an informed judgment on nearly $232 billion of defense programs.
I have already discussed my dissatisfaction with several provisions contained in the conference report. There may be other provisions contained in that report which are also not well thought out. These provisions will not be considered in the detail that they deserve. I intend to vote against the conference report, and my vote is against the process itself, the pork barrel that is contained in the bill and the MX.

At one point, Sen. Denton (R-AL) noted that the bill had only become available after debate began:

I preface my remarks by noting that it was 3 o’clock when we received the voluminous conference report, and my remarks are thus limited by the awareness which could be derived from a quick examination of it.

Sen. Thomas Eagleton (D-MO) said:

Mr. President, I am voting against the continuing resolution as a way of protesting the slip-shod, slapdash manner in which the Congress now handles the appropriations process.
There are 13 appropriation bills which the Congress is obliged to process each year. This year, we have sent on to the President only 7 of the 13: Agriculture, District of Colombia, Legislative, Interior, Transportation, HUD, and Military Construction. Therefore, the continuing resolution now before us contains the funding for the remaining 6 bills—State-Justice-Commerce, Defense, Energy, Foreign Operations, Labor/HHS, Treasury-Post Office. These six bills comprise 78 percent of all the money to be appropriated. In fact, Mr. President, it was 6 years ago—fiscal 1977—that we last passed all 13 appropriations bills and sent them in a timely way to the President before the new fiscal year started.
We have relegated the most important business that Congress is entrusted with—the expenditure of taxpayers’ money—to marathon, round-the-clock session. The result is that none of these bills or amendments thereto receive the kind of attention they deserve.
Here is a brief statistical analysis of what we did and how we did it.
We spent a total of 41 hours and 44 minutes on the continuing resolution. In that time we considered for “individual” attention a total of 85 amendments, including committee amendments and floor amendments.
We had 34 rollcall votes on amendments.
For example, the longest debate was on the MX missile. We spent 2 hours and 48 minutes on the MX. In my judgment, this matter was important enough and controversial enough to merit 2 or 3 days of intelligent debate.
One foreign aid we spent 15 minutes.
On the Clinch River breeder reactor we spent 41 minutes.
On the jobs portion of the bill we spent 38 minutes. Think of it, Mr. President, with 12,000,000 Americans out of work, we discussed and disposed of the major jobs component in the continuing resolution in half an hour.
On the major amendment dealing with our relationship with our NATO allies, we spent 13 minutes.
On the Rapid Deployment Force we spend 45 minutes.
On the nuclear aircraft carrier we spent 49 minutes.
On the major amendment dealing with our role in Central American we spent 48 minutes.
On home energy assistance to assist needly people in the payment of their skyrocketing fuel bills we spent 23 minutes.
Mr. President, this hectic, frantic, helter-skelter way of doing the Nation’s business is unacceptable. To rush through, on a last-minute basis, the bill which funds 78 percent of appropriated moneys, makes a mockery of the Senate tradition as “The World’s Greatest Deliberative Parliamentary Body.” This year’s continuing resolution stands as a monument to nondeliberation. For that reason, I will vote against the continuing resolution.

Sen. Roger Jepsen (R-IA) refused to support the resolution because he had not been given time to read it:

I rise in opposition to this conference report. I do so for a number of reasons, including the fact that it spends too much money. But, even beyond that, I feel compelled to vote against this resolution simply because I do not know what is in the report: We received the 540-page report just 3 hours before we were required to vote on it.
Mr. President, I realize the conferees were under an extremely tight deadline. I further realize that the Government Printing office has been swamped with work these past few days. But for the life of me, I cannot understand how we can ask any Member to vote either in favor of or in opposition to this resolution without having had an opportunity to read it.
As you know, some significant changes have been made since this document was passed by the Senate some 40 hours ago. Funding for some programs has been deleted and funding for other programs has been added. The news media has reported many of the major changes but, with few exceptions, most of us have been kept in the dark as to a number of significant alterations.
Again, I do not condemn the capable chairman of the Appropriations Committee nor any of the conferees. But I simply cannot bring myself to vote in favor of a report of this magnitude and importance which I have not had an opportunity to read. Therefore, I must regretfully vote no when the issue comes up.

Sen. Jim Exon (D-NE) said:

There is clearly something wrong with our procedure, when we continually finance Government with continuing resolutions, thereby effectively eliminating the traditional and more thorough budgetary authorization appropriation processes. In this instance we have written essentially a full year’s budget via a continuing resolution. We have become a slave of continuing resolutions because we lack the discipline and possibly the mechanism to do our work orderly and properly. I do not like to think of it, but we may also lack the will anymore to do things properly.
The good that might come from this lameduck session is that it might, I emphasize “just might,” convince us that we require a radical change in the rules and procedures of the Senate. Certainly, we can agree that before any further thought is given to televising all of this, we must first get our house in better order. Otherwise, we will certainly run the risk of seeing this institution further deteriorate in the minds of the people….
Madam President, my no vote is essentially in protest against the process, the timing, and the reason we are here at all.
This is in no way critical of any individual, official, or political party. We are all in this together and possibly from all of this will come needed reform and a return to basic common-sense. We cannot reason together, even disagree agreeably, working under a hammer of time that tends to substitute expediency for thoughtful deliberations.

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) said:

At this very moment we have no Government. Were it not for the presumption on the part of the Executive that Congress will finally do its job, the Government of the United States, would, by all rights, now be approaching the point of cold shutdown. This is lamentable not for the inconvenience it places upon Government, but because it forces serious issues of public policy to be settled with less contemplation than they deserve.
Mr. President, this is a deliberative body. We were meant by the Constitution so to be. When the processes of Government and legislation become as hopelessly confused as they have in the last few days, we as a Senate lose that distinction. And we lose it at the peril of the careful procedures that makes our democracy among the oldest on Earth.
I do not favor chaos in Government. Or furloughs. Or benefit checks that will be halted in midstream. And I do not mean to tempt those consequences by my vote against the continuing resolution.
But, Mr. President, I vote against this measure for the reason that it does not represent good Government. It does not represent the kind of deliberation this body owes the Nation.