The 41 lawmakers on Germany’s budget committee are powerful people, at least nominally. They make a show of their strength every November when they make cabinet ministers wait outside their meeting room, often until late into the night, before calling them in to draw red lines through their spending plans.
It’s up to the lawmakers, not the finance minister, to approve every single cent of expenditure for the ministries. But they have had their wings clipped over the past year, and they’re angry about it.
First, they were all but forced to sign off on billions of euros of fresh guarantees for Greece that Chancellor Angela Merkel had pledged in European Union talks to stave off a Greek default and a possible disintegration of the euro zone. Now, they’ve got to make further billions available to pay for the influx of refugees, which totalled 1.1 million in 2015 alone and is continuing this year at the rate of some 4,000 people per day.