Well, Harry Reid has decided that he's going to end up this lame-duck session doing it all again. He's priceless...to the Republicans, that is.
Since the Democrats avoided passing a budget because they were too busy passing health care and failed stimulus bills, they have to do something to fund the government or it will shut down this weekend. Traditionally, in this sort of situation, Congress passes a continuing resolution to keep government going along. But that's not good enough for Reid. His idea is to roll all the appropriations bills into one massive omnibus bill that is close to 2000 pages and have the Senate pass this thing over the next couple of days. The Associated Press can barely retain its snickers.
The spending barons on Capitol Hill, long used to muscling past opponents of bills larded with pet projects, are seeking one last victory before tea party-backed GOP insurgents storm Congress intent on ending the good old days of pork-barrel politics.The Republicans aren't guiltless in this. They've contributed their own earmarks to the bill. And GOP senators on the Appropriations Committee, Thad Cochran, Robert Bennett, and Kit Bond, have been working with the lead Democrats to pass this thing. Shame on them. No wonder Bennett lost his own bid among Republicans for renomination to run for the Senate. Kit Bond is retiring. Good riddance.
You might call it the last running of the old bulls in Congress.
In the waning days of the lame duck congressional session, Democrats controlling the Senate — in collaboration with a handful of old school Republicans — are pushing to wrap $1.27 trillion worth of unfinished budget work into a single "omnibus" appropriations bill.
Their 1,900-plus-page bill comes to the floor this week stuffed with provisions sought by lawmakers. It contains thousands of pet projects, known as earmarks, pushed by Democratic and GOP senators alike — despite a pledge by Republicans to give up such projects next year.
They could pass a continuing resolution to fund the government at the present rates. And of course those rates are not draconian by any means. But if they do that, they can't add in any of their their extra provision to fund their favorite special programs. And they're not about to give up that power whether they're retiring from the Senate or not.
Clearly those Republicans aren't following their leader. Mitch McConnell has condemned the bill.
Did Harry Reid miss the whole last election? Or does he feel so invincible that he can ignore all the complaints that people have been making about Congress for the past year? Are all those Democratic senators up for reelection in 2012 happy that Reid is forcing them to make a vote that will be hung around their necks in ads by their opponents?
This is such an opportunity for President Obama to separate himself from the Democrats on the Hill. Previously he has said that he regrets signing bills laden with earmarks. He campaigned on transparency, yet certainly hasn't practiced what he preached back in 2008. He's signed massive bills that no one had read, that Pelosi said we had to pass in order to find out what is in it. Well, here is his chance to embrace the principles he says that he believes in. He could come out publicly against the idea of an omnibus and threaten a veto.
Of course, if he really opposed such a massive pile-up of appropriations, don't you think that he would have already gotten the word to the Senate before they decided to go this route? I suspect that, yet again, we'll see him abandoning what he has said that he believes in. It's as if, for one last time, the Democrats can't stop themselves from behaving like the old bulls that they are.
One more reason for that new broom to sweep them out.
UPDATE: Red State has the bill posted so readers can go through an highlight the more egregiously wasteful measures tucked into the almost 2000 pages of the omnibus.