Supposedly it’s the giant number of earmarks involved in the bill that have them balking, but really they just don’t want to be locked into a Democratic Congress’s spending plan for another year. Better to pass a continuing resolution before Saturday — the deadline for funding the government, or else it shuts down — and let the tea-party Congress put out its own bill in January.
After all, elections have consequences. Or do they?
Republicans poring over a 1,924-page overarching spending bill proposed by Democrats to cover the rest of the fiscal year are threatening to
grind the legislation to a halt, citing massive earmark spending, which, if passed, would be enacted into law without debate in the full Senate.
Two sources who spoke to Fox News are describing the legislation as
“a total mess.”…
In total, more than 20,000 earmark requests are listed. The financial services earmark chart, for instance, lists 220 earmark requests from dozens of lawmakers, mostly in the House, each worth anywhere from $50,000 to $2.4 million. The largest sum was requested by Inouye and his Hawaii colleague Sen. Daniel Akaka for “Bank on USA” demonstration projects” in their state. The projects are designed to give underserved communities greater access to financial institutions…
“All hell is breaking loose,” the source told Fox News, noting that Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina were expected to insist the omnibus bill be read in its entirety by the clerk on the Senate floor before a vote is held. They also were expected to seek debate on all earmarks and any amendments.
McConnell says no one in the GOP caucus has seen the bill yet, and even retiring Republican Judd Gregg is demanding that it be scrapped in favor of a continuing resolution. Which means a Senate filibuster is a foregone conclusion, right? Wrong: No fewer than four Republicans — Bond, Collins, and retirees Bennett and Voinovich — are thinking of voting for it. The only Democrat I’ve heard of who’s considering opposing it is Claire McCaskill, who’s up in 2012 and wants an amendment capping discretionary spending in order to appease Missouri voters in the general campaign. Democrats would love to be able to spare her from having to vote yes in order to protect her for the election, so those four Republican votes will have not only policy consequences but potentially electoral ones too.
Exit question: Are DeMint and Coburn really going to force a full reading of the bill? No wonder Reid’s threatening to hold this sucker over until January 5.
Update: In case you’re not sufficiently excited about the bill already: “Indeed, the Senate bill has more pork fat than the House counterpart passed last week, and far worse, it contains funding for Obamacare implementation.”
Update: Idle thought: Does taking a stand on the omnibus spending bill buy the GOP some leeway among the base to support the tax cuts deal? It’d be a lot easier to quietly vote yes on extending unemployment benefits while making a lot of noise about getting rid of earmarks.