Late on Thursday night, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) spoke on the floor of the Senate, blasting Congress for rushing through another continuing resolution to fund the government without giving due thought to the process by which the government would keep spending astronomical sums of money. He quoted the famous explorer Jacques Cousteau warning, “We’re living in an interminable succession of absurdities imposed by the myopic logic of short-term thinking.”

Lee started:

Mr. President, we find ourselves in another position like we’ve found ourselves in before. We find ourselves in a position in which the government’s spending authority is set to expire in just a few hours. We’ve known this was coming for weeks, just like we did with the last continuing resolution and the one before that and the one before that. As Jaccques Cousteau once observed, “We’re living in an interminable succession of absurdities imposed by the myopic logic of short-term thinking.” Every time we approach this as if it were somehow going to be different this time. We quibble from time to time about this or that policy; we quibble from time to time about the price tag. Sometimes we’re so focused on the policy and the price tag that we forget the process. And it’s primarily to this subject, the process, that I’d like to turn my attention for the next few minutes. …

Lee pointed out that the hasty process Congress employed meant they were abdicating their responsibility to look out for the American people:

It’s spending bills where we have the opportunity to exercise oversight over the federal government. A government that requires the American people to spend many months out of every year working just to pay their tax bills; a federal government that imposes two trillion dollars every single year in regulatory compliance costs on the American people. A government that has the power to destroy a business, or livelihood, or, in some cases, lives. It’s important that we exercise this oversight, and without spending constraints, there can be no meaningful oversight. Without an adequate process, the republican form of government cannot fulfill its role; the American people are no longer in charge of their government when this happens. …

Lee noted that the massive unpopularity of Congress is a reflection of that abdication of responsibility:

What we’re doing, effectively, as a Congress, is pressing a reset button; it keeps current spending levels intact, in place unchanged, as if there were no reviewing body, as if there had been no elections, as if the American people didn’t matter at all to the process by which they’re governed .. We wonder, Mr. President why it is that this is an institution, Congress, that enjoys an approval rating of somewhere between nine and fourteen percent, making us slightly less popular than Fidel and Raul Castro in America and only slightly more popular than the influenza virus, which is rapidly gaining on us.

Lee pointed out that the Senate was presented with a binary choice: vote the bill up or down. He added, “There’s not a meaningful opportunity for debate if there’s no meaningful opportunity to amend a legislative resolution once it’s introduced.”

Then Lee offered an analogy that reflected the absurdity of the attitude Congress displayed:

If you moved into a new area, a very remote area, and you had access to only one grocery store, for many, many miles, for many, many hours, and you were on your way home from work , You spouse called you and said, “Stop at the store; pick up some bread milk and eggs.” So you go to the store and you get your grocery cart. You go to the bread aisle and you out a loaf of bread into your cart, and a carton of milk and a dozen eggs. And you get to the checkout counter and you put out your bread and your milk and your eggs, and the cashier rings those things up and says, “I’m sorry, you may not purchase bread and milk and eggs unless you also purchase a half-ton of iron ore and a bucket of nails and a book about cowboy poetry and a Barry Manilow album. In fact, this is a special kind of store where you have to buy all of those things, in fact, yoi have to buy every item in this store in order to buy any of these things, including the bread, the milk, and the eggs.” Well, that would start to approximate what it feels like to spend money in Congress, where we’re told you can’t fund any part of government unless you’re willing to fund all of government. …