Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-N.V.) is trying to ram through a $1.1 trillion, earmark-filled, omnibus spending bill in the last days of this Congress. The omnibus consolidates 12 appropriations spending bills, none of which ever passed the Senate.
In response, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has directed the Republican leadership to wage war against Reid’s omnibus and replace it with his short-term spending bill.
“I am actively working to defeat it,” McConnell said on Tuesday after seeing the omnibus for the first time. “This bill should not go forward. We didn’t pass a single appropriation bill… It is completely and totally inappropriate to wrap all of this up into a 2,000-page bill and try to pass it the week before Christmas.”
On Thursday morning, McConnell offered a one-page, short-term Continuing Resolution (CR), that would fund the government at current levels until February 18.
“Once the new Congress is sworn in, we’ll have a chance to pass a less expensive bill free of wasteful spending. Until then, we should take a step back and respect the clear will of the voters,” said McConnell in a statement on Thursday.
The House Democrats passed a CR last week which funds the government with their spending priorities through September 30. The Senate omnibus, FY 2011 Consolidated Appropriations Act, omnibus would also dictate spending priorities for the rest of the fiscal year, despite the Republicans taking control of the House.
The federal government is currently operating off a Continuing Resolution which expires at midnight on Saturday. Reid’s Omnibus funds the Democrats’ big-government spending programs, like ObamaCare, and is chock-full of over 6,000 earmarks.
“The Democrats failed to pass a budget or pass a single appropriations bill this year. And now they are trying to jam through a 2,000 page, $1.2 trillion omnibus package that was written behind closed doors,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the Republican Policy Committee Chairman, said on Wednesday.
“The reason we are witnessing this political train-wreck at this point is because of gross mismanagement of Senator Reid of actually failing to to pass a budget, not passing any one of the appropriations bills that are now crammed together in this omnibus– or, as some might say — ominous appropriations,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Vice-Chair of the Republican Conference.
The Senate Republicans are outraged by Reid’s blatant disregard for the mandate given by the American people in the midterm elections.
“The voters made an unambiguous statement last month. They don’t like the wasteful spending. They don’t want the Democrat health care bill. An they don’t want lawmakers rushing staggeringly complex, staggeringly expensive bills through Congress without any time for people to study what’s buried in the details,” said McConnell on Wednesday. “This bill is a legislative slap in the face to all those voters who rejected these things.”
Reid’s omnibus has 6,714 earmarks, which total $8.3 billion. Earmarks, also known as pork projects, are specific spending projects for members’ home states. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) created a working database of the earmarks in the omnibus. The pork projects include:
* Virus-free Wine Grape
* Solar Parking Canopies and Plug-in Electric Stations Demonstration
* Monitoring of aquatic invasive species in the Columbia River Basin
* Solar Panels for the Municipal Library
* Technology to Combat Asian Long-Horned Beetles in New York forests
* Salmon hatchery and harvest reform
* Boulder Bikes to Business Project
“We have already banned earmarks and made a pledge to America to end the practice of omnibus bills like this disgrace and cut spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels,” Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), who will be Speaker of the House in three weeks, said in a statement.
Also, Reid’s omnibus has $1 billion in funding for ObamaCare, which the Republican House will try to repeal next year. The bill allocates $750 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund “slush fund” for a variety of programs and $175.9 million in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Program Management account to implement Medicaid expansion.
“Senate Democrats even go so far as to plow more than $1 billion into implementing ObamaCare, despite a growing national revolt against this job-killing health care law,” stated Boehner.
“It includes more than $1billion to fund the Democrat health care bill. For those of us who’ve vowed to repeal it, this alone is reason to oppose to omnibus,” said McConnell.
The House Democrats passed a CR last week, but since Reid did not bring it to a vote, the process is back to square one. Reid has less than 72 hours to get a spending bill passed in the Senate, passed in the House, and signed by the President to stop a government shut down.
“The government runs out of money this Saturday. Congress should pass a short-term CR immediately,” said McConnell. “We should accomplish the most basic function of government — we can at least vote to keep the lights on around here.”