Neal E. Devins


On January 25, 1988, in his State of the Union Address, President Reagan blasted Congress for the budget process culminating in the Fiscal Year 1988 (FY 88) continuing resolution. 1 Contending that "[m]ost of you in this chamber didn't know what was in this [2100-page] catch all bill and [accompanying conference] report," the President boldly proclaimed that he would not sign "another one of these." 2 This damning statement, rather than inciting the hostility associated with unfounded accusations, provoked the wild appreciation associated with a minister preaching to the faithful. Indeed, since Congress's passage of the resolution, pledges of support for the President's stand have been made by enough Congressmen and Senators to sustain such a veto. 3 There is good reason to dislike the FY 88 continuing resolution: the bill shattered Congress's reputation as a deliberative body. Fearing the imminent shutdown of the government, 4 Congress adopted internal rules to preclude debate and amendment and effectively to deny access to the final version of the bill. 5 In essence, the resolution appears the secretive work-product of powerful legislators and their aides. This article's concern is the recent proliferation of continuing resolutions and the legal issues associated with that proliferation -- matters that received only scant attention in my earlier piece on limitation riders. 6 In reviewing the causes and contents of last year's continuing resolution, this article will not altogether remove the negative cast put on continuing resolutions. 7 At the same time, ...

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