December 20, 2022

An Omnibus Obscenity

By shoving through a $1.7 trillion spending bill in the dead of night, Senate Republicans gave a stiff arm to their House colleagues and the American people.

Last night, drunken sailors lawmakers released the 4,155-page text of a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill that will fund the government through the end of fiscal 2023.

For comparison, 4,155 pages is roughly the equivalent of four Bibles, or four copies of War and Peace stacked one atop the other. And they worked through the weekend to produce this abomination, they’ll have you know.

Our elected representatives’ excuse for putting us that much further into debt and that much closer to utter beggary without any legitimate opportunity for public input on the matter was, they say, to beat a Friday deadline and thereby avert a government shutdown.

Personally, we’d have much preferred the government shutdown.

We warned about this looming obscenity last week, but clearly to no avail. With Republicans ready to retake the House on January 3 and thereby strengthen the GOP’s fiscal hand, Mitch McConnell and a few sleazy Senate accomplices are instead on the brink of ramming home one last massive piece of runaway spending before the 117th Congress skedaddles.

Thus, instead of passing a short-term resolution until the new Congress can take up the matter of fiscal restraint in this much larger spending bill, congressional negotiators quietly agreed on a framework for the whole enchilada.

Sadly — and infuriatingly — neither of the lawmakers most responsible for this spending orgy is going to be around to face the consequences. That’s because both Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, and Appropriations Vice Chairman Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, are retiring at the end of the term.

Once upon a time, Republicans cared about spending money they don’t have. But no more. Or at least not enough of them.

What happened to principled opposition? What happened to the GOP’s opposition to earmarks? Former Reagan economist Larry Kudlow spills the beans:

Mr. Shelby, who has a fine conservative record down through the years, is blowing it up in his last weeks. He won’t be around to pick up the higher inflation pieces that may result from his omnibus spending increases, including his status as the league leader and most valuable player of the earmarks World Series.

When I say Sen. Shelby is the league leader, I know whereof I speak. According to his own Senate Appropriations Committee, his earmarks come to $650 million. The runner-up is another retiree, Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma with $511 million, that is followed by recently re-elected Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska at $490 million. So, of the top 10 most valuable player candidates for earmarks, eight of them are Republicans. Remember how the GOP ran in the midterms to cut spending and inflation? Didn’t do all that well, did they?

Nope, they didn’t. Here are some of the bill’s priorities:

  • $45 billion in military and economic aid for Ukraine’s conflict with Russia, which is billions more than the $37 billion Biden requested
  • $5 billion in earmarks for 3,200 projects
  • $47 billion for the National Institutes of Health
  • $1 billion for Puerto Rico’s electrical grid
  • The Senate version of the Electoral Count Reform Act, which would change the process for lawmakers to object to the certification of the presidential election

On the bright side, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley’s push to have a ban on TikTok on government devices is also included.

In a shot across the spendthrifts’ bow, Texas Congressman Chip Roy posted the following message on behalf of nine House colleagues and three representatives-elect to both the House and Senate GOP: “We are obliged to inform you that if any omnibus passes in the remaining days of this Congress, we will oppose and whip opposition to any legislative priority of those senators who vote for this bill — including the leader.”

Beneath that warning, Roy and 12 of his colleagues attached a letter that said in part: “Senate Republicans have the 41 votes necessary to stop this and should do so now and show the Americans who elected you that they weren’t wrong in doing so. The American people did not elect us — any of us — to continue the status quo in Washington, as this bill will undoubtably do. They didn’t elect us to borrow and spend more money we do not have as interest rates skyrocket in response to government-spending fueled inflation eating away at the livelihoods of Americans.”

The 13 fiscally sane Republicans who signed the letter and deserve our gratitude are Representatives Chip Roy, Scott Perry, Dan Bishop, Andy Biggs, Matthew Rosendale, Matt Gaetz, Ralph Norman, Bob Good, Byron Donalds, and Andrew Clyde; and Representatives-elect Anna Paulina Luna, Andy Ogles, and Eli Crane.

Incidentally, our national debt is now more than $31 trillion. That’s more than $94,000 per citizen and more than $248,000 per taxpayer. It’d be nice if more than a handful of folks in Washington gave a hoot.

UPDATE: Buried within the bill’s 4,155 pages is a line item providing $410 million for the border — but not our border. This expenditure is meant to reimburse Jordan Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Oman for “enhanced border security.”

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