The Appropriators Buckle

NRO – Rich Lowry

Tonight may indeed may be a “seminal moment,” as McCain said. This was to be the appropriators’ last hurrah. In the end, they couldn’t see it through, and it’s not going to get any better for them next year.

Why did it go down? You had Jim DeMint rallying outside opposition, and pushing Reid’s back against the wall procedurally with the threat to have the whole monstrosity read on the floor; that was time Reid presumably couldn’t afford to waste given everything else he wants to jam through.

Then, you had Mitch McConnell on the phone all day with Republican appropriators–Reid’s base of support on the bill–twisting their arms to come out against it. My understanding is that by the end he had all the appropriators committed against it, with the exception of two who were undecided.

McConnell told the appropriators that passing this bill, and passing it this way, would represent a rejection of everything the mid-term election was about, and ultimately he prevailed. Again and again over the last two years, McConnell has done what a minority leader needs to do–keep his troops united.

And, finally, there was McCain. He was out there, too. On “Hannity” last night, he sounded like a tea-partier, urging people to use social media and to flood the phone lines in opposition. It must have been particularly sweet for him, after all these years battling appropriators, doing a victory jig all over the bill on the senate floor a little while ago.

Altogether, a heartening night…

Harry Reid pulls $1.1 trillion spending bill from floor

Politico – By DAVID ROGERS

Senate Democrats abruptly pulled down an omnibus spending bill after senior Republicans – caught with their hands in the cookie jar — deserted the measure in an effort to square themselves with tea party activists and conservatives in the party.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the announcement and signaled he would substitute a short-term spending resolution for the much more detailed year-long $1.1 trillion plus measure which many in the GOP had been quietly rooting for just weeks ago.

With Washington facing a funding cutoff Saturday night, the result is a genuine fiscal crisis — at once serious and rich in political farce.

Democrats have only themselves to blame for failing to pass any of the 12 annual appropriations bills that fund the day-to-day operations of the government. At the same time, Republicans contributed mightily to this failure and are going through their own culture war — torn between the Senate’s old-bull pork-barrel ways and the more temperate fiscal gospel of their new tea party allies.

Adding to the GOP’s worries is the agitation on the right over the high cost and impact on the deficit of a post-election compromise that its Senate leadership struck with President Barack Obama — authorizing more than $850 billion in tax and unemployment benefits.

That bill, swiftly approved by the Senate this week, was truly its own revenue version of the spending omnibus, pulling diverse tax provisions together with little debate and including costly new estate tax relief that in the past could never muster 60 Senate votes — a standard threshold demanded by McConnell.

McConnell Thursday sought to regain his footing by drawing a stark contrast with his one-page “clean” substitute. Left unsaid is that he encouraged the omnibus effort before the election and that, even after Nov. 2, McConnell continued to hedge his bets, never taking out his estimated $112.8 million in spending earmarks, nor pulling back old friends on the Senate Appropriations Committee working on behalf of the measure.

He and many other Republicans, who also left their earmarks in the omnibus, are now scrambling to separate themselves from their handiwork. Thursday brought McConnell’s second Claude Rains “Casablanca” moment of the week, when he essentially expressed shock that there’s gambling in Rick’s Café.

“It’s unbelievable, really,” he said of the omnibus. “They want us to ram this gigantic, trillion-dollars bill through Congress — and they’re using the Christmas break as an inducement to get us to vote for it.”

Reid has insisted he would plow ahead, but after 7 p.m. pulled back.

“As of this morning, we had enough,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) before the bill reading began. “I don’t know what is going to happen tonight.”

Beyond the theatrics, McConnell’s shift does harden the political lines against the giant spending bill and makes getting to the 60 votes needed to cut off debate more of an uphill fight.

As a fallback, the House last week narrowly approved a yearlong, stripped-down continuing resolution, but in calling for a resolution lasting just two months, until Feb. 18, McConnell signaled that the House alternative is also unacceptable.

This is the most alarming scenario for the White House, setting up a potential “shut down the government” spending confrontation with newly empowered Republicans early next year. Obama has been slow to help the beleaguered Inouye, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates weighed in during a White House appearance on Thursday and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged her former Senate colleagues to find compromise on the omnibus.

“We need these resources now more than ever to support national security priorities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where we are helping secure gains made by our military and preventing the spread of violent extremism,” Clinton said. “Our budget is being used to help stabilize the global economy, combat extreme poverty, demolish transnational criminal networks, stop global health pandemics and address the threat of climate change.”

“These are not partisan issues; they are national imperatives,” Clinton said.

Top 10 Reasons to oppose the “Omnibus” Spending Bill

By Max Pappas

At nearly 2,000 pages, and well over $1 trillion dollars, there are far more than ten reasons to oppose the “omnibus” spending bill that was sprung on us at the last minute by this lame duck Congress.  But here are some of the worst parts of this bill, which is expected to be voted on as an amendment to H.R. 3082.

1.  Congress hasn’t learned their lesson. 

This lame-duck trillion dollar pork-laden bill is an affront to our democracy in that it ignores the message so many tried to send Washington at the ballot box just over a month ago. Overwhelmingly, the people rejected big government.

2.  It will increase government spending. 

We called for less spending and this lame-duck $1 trillion-plus bill continues Congress’ reckless spending spree. At almost 2,000 pages, it averages $575,120,000 in spending per page.

3.  A trillion dollar spending bill deserves more open debate. 

We called for an honest and transparent process and the lame-duck Senate gives us another 2,000 page bill crafted behind closed doors that it wants to quickly cram though at the last minute.

4.  It will fund ObamaCare. 

This bill includes over $1,000,000,000 in spending to implement the unpopular and unconstitutional ObamaCare health care takeover (see pages 983-1001).

5.  It includes the unconstitutional FDA Food “Safety” Bill. 

This over-sized spending bill includes the Food “Safety” Bill that will spend $1.4 billion giving the federal government unprecedented control over our diets while not making our food any safer. Federal bureaucrats who likely know little to nothing about farming will set the guidelines on appropriate temperatures, what soil to use, how much water to use and what animals are allowed to be on certain fields.  This over-regulation bill has no place in this already over-stuffed spending bill.

6.  The focus should be on cutting government spending. 

In just the past two years, total government spending has increased by 16.8 percent. The omnibus continues our nation on the path to economic ruin. Instead, Congress should begin rolling back spending, like the Republican Study Committee suggests in their alternative bill that moves domestic discretionary spending back to FY2008 levels.

For perspective, in inflation-adjusted dollars, federal discretionary spending alone has almost doubled since FY2000.  Are you getting twice as much from your government?

7.  The omnibus moves Nevada to the Pacific Coast. 

It designates Nevada a “Pacific Coast State” so Senator Harry Reid and direct special finds to his state. Last we checked no part of Nevada touches the Pacific Ocean.

8.  It has over 6,000 earmarks costing over $8 billion. 

We called for no more earmarks and this lame-duck Senate gives us a pork-stuffed bill with over 6,000 earmarks that spend over $8 billion on pet projects, many beyond absurd and far beyond the appropriate role of the federal government.

9.  It steers federal spending to pet projects in lawmaker’s states.  

Sen. Inouye (D-Hawaii), is the lead sponsor of this “omnibus” spending bill, so it should be no surprise that among many other earmarks, it includes, $400,000 for Hawaii Fisheries Development in Honolulu, $1,000,000 for the Hawaii Seafood Program in Honolulu, $2,500,000 for the Imiloa Astronomy Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.

10.  It’s business as usual with enough pork to make Jimmy Dean jealous.

 And the pork rolls out all over the place.

Here are just 10 more to round out this Top 10:

1.    $277,000 for potato pest management in Wisconsin
2.    $246,000 for bovine tuberculosis in Michigan and Minnesota
3.    $413,000 for peanut research in Alabama
4.    $247,000 for virus free wine grapes in Washington
5.    $94,000 for blackbird management in Louisiana
6.    $165,000 for maple research in Vermont
7.    $235,000 for noxious weed management in Harry Reid’s Nevada
8.    $150,000 for “Construction of a Children’s Playground” in Yauco, Puerto Rico
9.    $1,000,000 “for revitalization and renewal of the city’s downtown region” for Longview, Washington
10.    $400,000 for a “National Textile Center” at Cornell University

UPDATE -Saxby Chambliss has $41,713,000 in 41 projects in the bill. He did not get the message either.  A few of Saxby’s pork he wants the American taxpayers to pay:

-Construction of a Civil Rights Museum and Visitor Center $500,000
-Minority Energy Science Research and Education Initiative $400,000
-Peanut Research, $1,000,000
-Water Use Reduction, $1,200,000
-Airport Runway Extension at Middle Georgia Regional Airport $1,400,000
-University of Georgia, Athens, GA, for obesity intervention and prevention $100,000
-Spelman College, Women in Science and Engineering Program $100,000

end –  😉