Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, gaveled the House to a close for the last time about 3:15 a.m.; the Senate limped to a close about 4:40 a.m.
But Republicans dumped an unfinished budget on the Democrats about to take power, with the Senate barely meeting a midnight deadline to pass a stopgap spending bill putting the government on autopilot until February 15.
The failure to pass budget bills for domestic agencies, said Rep. David Obey, D-Wisconsin, amounted to "a blatant admission of abject failure by the most useless Congress in modern times."
The House, also working late into the night, acted first, easily passing the tax and Medicare provisions -- along with a plan to open 8.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling. The vote was 367-45. It passed the trade legislation by a narrower 212-184...
All told, the tax cuts would cost $38 billion over five years.
For the record, Mike Rogers voted yes on these tax breaks (see Vote 533: H R 6111, Vote 536: H RES 1100, and Vote 530: H RES 1099.) As usual, Mike Rogers is perfectly content to pass the buck onto someone else:
On the rest of the budget, work remained unfinished on nine of 11 spending bills, requiring the stopgap funding bill to put 13 Cabinet departments on autopilot through February 15 frozen at or slightly below current levels.
Democrats now face difficult choices and weeks of work on the leftover budget, which totals $463 billion and must be passed at Bush's strict budget limits.
"They are leaving us with a tremendous mess," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told reporters. "We have alternatives, none of which are very good."
Yep, Mike Rogers and the do-nothing 109th Congress left town without finishing work on nine of 11 spending bills. Now, following this vote, we have 13 Cabinet departments on autopilot through February 15. The democrats who will lead the 110th Congress are inheriting a giant fiscal mess, thanks to the failed leadership of republican representatives like Mike Rogers.