News Updates

Congressional Clown Show

Congressional Clown Show

Plus: Dianne Feinstein’s replacement doesn’t even live in California, New York’s biblical floods, and more…


Government can’t even do a shutdown right: Over the weekend, Congress passed a continuing resolution that will allow the government to stay open until mid-November, buying legislators more time to settle on a spending package to fund the government for the upcoming fiscal year. In the House, the bill passed 335–91; in the Senate, the vote was 88–9.

“The continuing resolution keeps overall spending levels at 2023 levels, though it does not resolve the impasse over whether Congress will continue supplying military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine,” reports Reason‘s Eric Boehm. “That funding was left out of the final bill, but House Democrats released a statement Saturday saying they expected [House Speaker Kevin] McCarthy to hold an up-or-down vote soon on a separate bill to fund the Ukrainian efforts.”

“We’re tired of fucking around with these whack jobs,” Rep. Don Bacon (R–Neb.) told Politico, referring to the right-wing flank in the House that had consistently opposed both spending bills and stopgap measures like this one.

A shutdown probably wouldn’t have accomplished much, politically or otherwise. “We know from history that shutdowns don’t really save money,” wrote Boehm over the weekend. “After the record 35-day shutdown that ended in January 2019, the Congressional Budget Office found that about $18 billion in federal spending was delayed—less than half of one percent of the $4.4 trillion spent that year. The actual savings were even less, since half of that total was the result of not paying federal employees for five weeks, which means they were immediately wiped out when the government reopened and those workers got their back pay.”

Of course, it’s highly unlikely that members of Congress, still tasked with approving the budget for fiscal year 2024, will do anything to touch giant entitlement programs such as Social Security—one of the real culprits responsible for our nation’s financial woes—over the next month and a half.

Fire alarms, how do they work? Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D–N.Y.) pulled the fire alarm in a House office building on Saturday, in what was widely perceived as an effort to delay the vote on Republicans’ stopgap spending bill. “I was rushing to make a vote; I was trying to get through a door. I thought the alarm would open the door,” Bowman said to reporters, oddly acting as if he didn’t know how a fire alarm works.

Then he kept going: “I want to be very clear, this was not me, in any way, trying to delay the vote. It was the exact opposite—I was trying urgently to get to a vote, which I ultimately did.”

Unfortunately for Bowman, the whole incident was caught on camera. “This should not go without punishment. This is an embarrassment,” said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R–Calif.), who knows a thing or two about being embarrassed in public these days.

Dianne Feinstein’s replacement: California Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to appoint Laphonza Butler, the president of the abortion rights group EMILY’s List, to the Senate seat made vacant by the death of Dianne Feinstein. Back in March, the Democratic governor had vowed to replace Feinstein with a black woman. Appointing Butler, who is black, makes good on that promise.

But there’s a problem: She literally doesn’t live in California.

“Butler is registered to vote in Maryland but will switch her registration to California,” reports Politico.

Politically, there’s very little about Butler that libertarians will like. She was a senior strategist on Kamala Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign before it crashed and burned. She served as president of the Service Employees International Union of California, where she lobbied for higher taxes and a higher minimum wage.

Forgive me if I seem retro by today’s political standards, but I think senators should actively live in the places they’re representing and possibly even be picked on merit. Crazy, I know.

Scenes from New York:

A healthy, functional city with infrastructure that definitely works:
On Friday, much of New York was brought to a halt by biblical flooding. Nearly every subway line was either closed down or substantially delayed, cars were unable to drive on highways, and lots of apartments sustained damage.


  • headline from The Washington Post: “The rise of ‘Chinese Communist Party’ as a pejorative.” (I am fine with this becoming a pejorative.)
  • On that topic: “The renowned Uyghur anthropologist Rahile Dawut disappeared in 2017 and was convicted of ‘splittism,'” writes Ruth Ingram for The China Project. “Confirmation that her appeal was rejected means she’ll likely spend the rest of her life in a Chinese prison.”
  • Make it make sense, Gavin Newsom edition.
  • More insanity from the Left Coast:
  • In August, 18 asylum seekers from Syria escaped into Greece. Fearing apprehension, they chose to traverse burning forests to avoid possibly interacting with the authorities. They died in the wildfires.
  • On blue laws, Puritans, Jews, Seventh-Day Adventists, and a strange county in New Jersey: How the Sabbath has been observed in different ways, by different groups, throughout history and modernity.
  • The oldest living torrent is now 20 years old.
Liz Wolfe is an associate editor at Reason covering tech, free speech, and China and co-host of the Reason Livestream. She has interviewed sex workerstattoo artistsventure capitaliststech CEOscrypto hype men, and the occasional restaurateur. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.


Reason is the magazine of “free minds and free markets,” offering a refreshing alternative to the left-wing and right-wing echo chambers for independent-minded readers who love liberty.
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