The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The 13 best haiku poems in the CRomnibus debate

Congress is trying to figure out how to fund the government so they can just go home for the holidays. This has been difficult, and at this point, no one knows what is going on. (Editor's note: This lead could have been used for almost anything involving Washington over the past two years.)

Much has been written trying to explain what is happening and what legislators are currently trying to pass or protest, but we're still left wondering -- what does it all mean?

We decided searching for haiku in the spending bill was the obvious way to do this. A haiku, according to, is a "three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count. Often focusing on images from nature, haiku emphasizes simplicity, intensity, and directness of expression." Nearly all haiku feature "the focus on a brief moment in time; a use of provocative, colorful images; an ability to be read in one breath; and a sense of sudden enlightenment and illumination."

These are not words often applied to Congress, but we found out that the CRomnibus drafters did inadvertently slip some poetry into the legalese.

In Division F of the spending bill, which deals with the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, we found this (with the help of this Web site).

Energy, Minerals,
and Environmental Health:
Minerals resources.

Very powerful.

In the section on military construction and Veterans Affairs, there were two more. 



In the end, however, there wasn't much to unpack in the spending bill. But, the House floor debate around the spending bill was far more illuminating. There were several haiku to be found in the past few days of Congressional Records.

They did a great job summing up the eloquence of governance.

The rules governing
how a bill becomes a law
are not optional.
It is critical
that this legislation be
enacted this year.
Some may ask, why is
this resolution needed?
Why now? This is why.
Objection having
been heard, the bill will be placed
on the calendar.
President, let me
reclaim my time just to make
one other comment.

Some captured the powerlessness at the heart of being an elected official.

I reserve the right
to object, but I do not
intend to object.

Some used metaphor.

We have seen the seeds
sown in division, in fear,
in disharmony.

Some invoked history.

These are all issues
that have had bipartisan
support in the past.
That is when I saw
the leadership that was talked
about earlier.

Most seem completely random, but perhaps no less useful than anything else we're hearing while waiting for this all to end.

Finally, if there
is no water, it does not
flow to the ocean.