In: A big hike in military spending, and in every category of domestic spending, too. Out: Other than a minimal $1.6 billion for border security (and only $641 million for Donald Trump’s wall), any movement on the immigration standoff — and any hint of fiscal responsibility, too. Consider this new omnibus spending bill a $1.3 trillion kick of the can down the road … again:
Congressional leaders reached a $1.3 trillion spending deal Wednesday to keep government agencies operating through September, unveiling legislation that would make good on President Trump’s promises to increase military funding while blocking much of his immigration agenda.
The release of the 2,000-plus-page bill Wednesday evening, after a two-day delay, touched off a legislative sprint as lawmakers try to pass it before Friday night, the deadline to avoid a government shutdown. And with a key senator unwilling to say whether he would agree to accelerate the deal’s consideration, it remained uncertain whether they would be able to meet the challenge.
Like most omnibus bills, this will get shoved through Congress quickly enough to keep people from noticing its worst aspects. Its 2200-page length would require several days to read in detail — well, several days and plenty of No-Doz. And like most omnibus bills, members of Congress will opt to skip that step:
The Wednesday night filing of the more than 2,200-page measure was the starting pistol that sent lawmakers into a mad dash against the government funding clock. They were given 52 hours.
The scramble could have been avoided had leaders opted to move another short-term continuing resolution to extend current funding for a few days or weeks.
But facing the bad optics of what would have been the sixth stopgap in just as many months and the prospect of dreaded weekend or recess work (the House and Senate are scheduled to be out of session the next two weeks), congressional leaders were resigned to moving ahead quickly with the late negotiated omnibus.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) offered a sharp comment about the process last night:
Literally, this is the life of a congressman (who cares about what’s going to be in the bill) right now. SAD! pic.twitter.com/R316RIeF41
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) March 21, 2018
You bet it’s sad. Why aren’t you using Bing, Congressman?
Sen. John Kennedy told Roll Call he’d likely vote against the bill for its “mushroom management” process:
“No chance. I don’t even know if we’ll have time to read it,” Sen. John Kennedy said, predicting he wouldn’t but saying he’d try his best.
The Louisiana Republican criticized leadership for what he called “mushroom management of keeping you in the dark and feeding you manure,” saying it’s an embarrassment to the people who elected them.
“This is a Great Dane-sized whiz down the leg of every taxpayer in America,” Kennedy said.
It’s not the only whiz down America’s leg coming out of this process. Nancy Pelosi bragged about how she got what she wanted out of the spending bill yesterday and planned to support it. So why is she whipping a vote against the bill this morning?
Pelosi is urging her members to vote against the House rule to consider the omnibus — the first step on the floor to debating the package — after congressional leaders failed to secure protections for Dreamers in the funding bill.
While Pelosi is supporting the overall spending package — she and other Democrats have bragged that they defeated many “poison pill” rides sought by Republicans — the California Democrat is unhappy that there was no action on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. President Donald Trump has sought to end the program, although the issue is now likely heading for the Supreme Court.
Oh, please. Democrats could have cut a deal with Trump on DACA and nearly did, until the Supreme Court took the deadline off the table. Pelosi could have held up the omnibus package for such a deal, but she and Chuck Schumer repeatedly took DACA out of the mix after getting burned on a government shutdown a few weeks ago. This is nothing more than pure stunt, attempting to perform a little CYA with DACA activists who are furious with Democrats for leaving them behind in the budget process.
Rand Paul hinted that he might try to slow down the process, calling the omnibus a “rotten, terrible, no good way to run your government”:
With Congress teetering on the brink of its third government shutdown in three months, Sen. Rand Paul still hasn’t seen the details of a new budget bill that’s likely to be 1,000 pages long — and he’s not pleased.
That matters because it was Paul, R-Ky., who last month single-handedly prevented Congress from speedily moving ahead on a sweeping budget deal, triggering a short government shutdown as he protested his own Republican party’s deficit spending. …
In two conversations with McClatchy, Paul said he’d make up his mind after he sees the $1.3 trillion spending plan, which Republican leaders had hoped to produce last week but were working round the clock with Democrats to finish Wednesday. Details are expected to be finalized later in the day.
“You have to know what’s in it,” Paul said. “Really, should we be looking at 1,000 page bills with 24 hours to decide what’s in them? It’s really not a good way to run your government.”
We hear that a lot with omnibus bills, too, and yet we keep getting them. But even omnibus spending bills could move through Congress with more transparency than this. Had Congress passed another continuing resolution to extend the deadline a few more days, everyone could have seen what was in the bill. However, that may very well be why leaders of both parties wanted a rush to a floor vote. Appropriate in haste, repent at leisure … same as it ever was.
We’ll have more on the bill itself during the day, no doubt, as votes occur and as Rep. Massie’s Google searches pan out. Congress will start working on the FY2019 budget soon, which so far they’re promising will be under regular order. We’ve heard that before, too.
Update: Pelosi’s stunt fell just short of success:
NEW: House adopts procedural rule for omnibus spending bill, 211-207; final vote expected Thursday afternoon
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 22, 2018
Looks like 17 Representatives abstained. Not sure what that means for final passage; probably not a lot, since Democrats did get much of what they wanted from the deal.