WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 30) — In a rare show of the ability to actually do something, Congress passed a measure to fund the federal government for another two months early this morning. Both Democrats and Republicans exhibited a bipartisan spirit as they scrambled to find enough money to keep the country in business until an annual budget can be passed.
“We may not agree on much,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. “But if you’re looking for someone who will do virtually anything to scrounge up some cash, we’re your guys.”
Minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky concurred, adding “hey, I was willing to accept a contribution from the National Association of Murderers (a lobbying group that works to support the right of psychopaths to kill friends and neighbors). You know my ethical standards are off-the-charts low, so coming up with the $219 billion wasn’t as hard as you might think.”
The stop-gap effort effectively keeps the lights on at agencies and major federal programs until Dec. 3 when, if a final budget is not agreed upon, government workers will resort to candles, flashlights and night-vision goggles in order to see in the dark. The move marks Congress’ second major accomplishment since returning from summer break in September. They also passed a resolution encouraging veteran House clerk Roger Patterson to keep fighting in his battle against cancer, voting 228-194 on a motion that Patterson was a “tough old bird who wasn’t about to let a little node on his left lung get him down.”
As the midnight deadline approached, members of both houses and both parties fanned out across the Washington area to scare up every spare penny they could find.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) checked his car ashtray and found $13.87 (minus a 5% processing charge from the Coinstar machine at the all-night Kroger near the Capitol). Democrat Russ Feingold of Wisconsin rounded up aluminum cans from trash bins in the Senate breakroom, which he was then able to redeem for $8.93. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), involved in a tough re-election battle against former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina, had a box of used toner cartridges delivered to Fiorina’s campaign headquarters, for which the U.S. received $35.87 in credit.
Conservatives and liberals alike came to the aid of their country in its half-hour of need. Tea Party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint made a stop at a 24-hour plasma center to donate platelets, a good-faith effort that came to naught when screening tests revealed the South Carolinian was a reptile. Republican House whip Rep. Eric Cantor pawned a “Role-X” watch he bought during a junket last year to Hong Kong, bringing in $13.45. The Senate’s only avowed socialist, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, sold his autographed copy of Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” on E-Bay for $45,000. Retiring Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania got an unsecured $100 loan from a payday lender for only 20% interest, and Minnesota Democrat Al Franken’s cousin works second shift at Burger King and they get paid on Wednesdays so he was able to front Franken $20, as long as Franken swore on their common grandmother’s grave he’d pay it back.
North Carolina’s Mel Watt went through a suburban Panera’s dumpster, looking for bagels that could count toward the Department of Education’s $115 million budget for school lunch programs. Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown hung out on a windy corner near an ATM machine, hoping to find dropped cash that had blown into the bushes. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) shoplifted a box of Lindt chocolates from a Rite-Aid drug store, then returned it for a refund. Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions waded into a fountain at a Georgetown Dean & DeLuca and brought back $11.17 in wet change.
Even former senators got into the act of trying to raise funds to keep the government running. Idaho’s Larry Craig, famously caught in a 2007 sex sting at a Minneapolis airport men’s room, said he’d blow transients at the Washington homeless shelter for a quarter a piece.
“It’s really great to see that we can come together as one when we really have to,” said President Obama, who promised to sign the appropriations bill and contributed $47.85 of his own by breaking open his daughters’ porcelain piggy banks with a Predator drone attack. “If it’s petty theft we need to make this nation great again, then it’s petty theft we’ll have.”