Sunrise at the U.S. Capitol, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022 in Washington. Credit: Matt Rourke / AP

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All we want for Christmas is for Congress to fund the government on time and in a predictable way, rather than dramatically going from one extended deadline to the next and just barely keeping things on track.

With yet another last minute spending deal reached before the holiday break, and thankfully expected to pass this week, lawmakers have seemingly avoided catastrophe but continued their sorry tradition of budgetary procrastination.

To be fair, a better budget process has not been our only wish from lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to close out the year. And yes, they look poised to deliver some important legislative gifts as part of the $1.7 trillion omnibus package — like critical reforms to the Electoral Count Act.

Lawmakers may have secured individual wins, but the overall process is still defined by failure.

In theory, Congress is supposed to pass 12 individual appropriations bills by the end of September to coincide with the start of a new fiscal year. The reality has, for years, been much more haphazard.

Lawmakers have consistently struggled to pass those bills on time, and turned to a patchwork of last minute extensions to keep the government funded. Short-term continuing resolutions, like the one passed last week to avert the previous deadline, keep funding at existing levels. Omnibus spending packages, like the one expected to pass this week, combine the various appropriations bills into one massive spending vehicle and often include unrelated policy provisions.

In terms of the agreement being considered now, the only thing worse than this continued process failure would be inaction. This flawed process is still better than the pain and chaos of a government shutdown.

However, members of the House and Senate must decide together that 2023 is finally the year that they return to a more regular budget process.

We’ve frankly run out of new ways to discuss the very real, and very repetitive, consequences of budgeting from one shutdown cliff to the next. We’ve quoted a 2018 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office about the inefficiencies this approach creates. We’ve compared the situation to “Groundhog Day” the movie. We’ve even quoted the succinct description of one U.S. senator, who said that the process of passing large spending bills with little time for review “stinks.

The process still stinks. Hopefully this omnibus bill, which funds the federal government through Sept. 2023, provides time for this change to finally happen. But we’ve said that before, too.

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The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...