The $410 billion omnibus appropriation bill passed the Senate last night on a voice vote having reached cloture — dashing a Republican-led filibuster — mere minutes before by a vote of 62-35. Three Democrats voted against cloture and in favor of fiscal responsibility, and six Republicans voted for cloture. Had this monster bill not passed, Congress was poised to pass a continuing resolution funding the government through September but holding the 2009 budget at current spending levels while stripping out all earmarks.
At least five of the eight Republicans sold out for the price of their own personal pork pet projects scattered throughout the over 9,000 earmarks in the bill, crossing over to vote with Democrats in favor of driving yet another stake through the heart of the nation’s economy by endorsing the majority’s out-of-control spending.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) voted for the bill and his 64 earmarks worth $114 million. Shelby’s earmarks range from $800,000 for oyster rehabilitation at the University of South Alabama to $380,000 to the city of Tarrant, Ala., for streetscaping and walkways. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) had 65 earmarks worth $76 million. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) has zero earmarks yet also voted for the bill. Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) voted for the bill and his $86 million in earmarks; Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted for her $74 million in earmarks; and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) voted for the bill and his $25 million in earmarks.
Calls and emails to Shelby’s office for comment on his earmark spending spree — the highest monetary amount by any Republican this go around — went unreturned.
This massive spending bill is the largest increase in regular discretionary spending since Democrat President Jimmy Carter’s disastrous tax and spend economic policies engineered a horrifying economic hat trick: double digit inflation, double digit unemployment and double digit interest rates. But Carter was a panty-waist compared to President Barack Obama, who after a mere 51 days in office is already well on his way to producing the same disastrous economic outcome it took Carter two years to accomplish.
In earlier floor action in the Senate, the Democrat majority defeated an amendment offered by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) which barred the FCC from allocating funding to the effort by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to back door the so-called “fairness” doctrine, now known on the Hill as the Durbin Doctrine. Democrats also voted to table an amendment offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) that would have re-authorized the E-Verify system that offers employers the means to verify a worker’s citizenship status. As it stands now, illegal aliens are not barred from those jobs Obama keeps telling you are going to materialize. Also tabled was the David Vitter (R-La.) amendment that would have struck down the automatic cost of living pay raises Congress receives.
After the Senate vote, House Republican leader John Boehner renewed calls for the President to veto the omnibus spending bill. “President Obama should veto this bill, and if he does, Republicans stand ready to work with him to uphold his veto and pass a more responsible bill,” Boehner said. “A recession is not an excuse for politicians to spend taxpayers’ hard-earned money with reckless abandon. By vetoing this bill, the President can send a powerful message that he intends to keep his promise to fight for spending discipline and fiscal transparency at a time when such things have never mattered more to American families.”
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), along with his diligent staff, has helped lead the charge in bringing to light the pork-laden earmarks in this bill. “Americans are suffering in this economy, but Washington appears to be recession-proof, with billions wasted on politicians’ pet projects,” DeMint said after the bill’s passage. “Last year, as a U.S. senator, President Obama cosponsored my legislation banning all earmarks for this year’s spending bills. But we’re on track to have the second most earmarks in history, and only President Obama can stop this waste. I urge President Obama to keep his pledge and single-handedly stop more than 9,000 wasteful earmarks by promising to veto this omnibus bill.”
“The 9,287 earmarks in the omnibus include tax dollars for tattoo removal, swine odor, midnight basketball, museums, bike paths, a “Totally Teen Zone,” and the controversial liberal advocacy group LaRaza,” DeMint continued. “Combined with the spending bills already passed last year, it will drive up the number of earmarks in Fiscal Year 2009 to a total of 11,914 at a cost of $28.9 billion.”
The six Republicans who voted to invoke cloture which ended debate on the omnibus bill, thus ending the filibuster, were as follows: Alexander (Tenn.), Bond (Mo.), Cochran (Miss.), Murkowski (Alaska), Shelby (Ala.), Snowe (Maine), Specter (Pa.), and Wicker (Miss.) (see the complete roll call).