Weekly Wastebasket | March 23, 2018
Around 8 PM Wednesday night, a 2,242 page behemoth omnibus spending bill appeared on the House of Representatives Document Repository web site. Weighing in at $1.3 trillion, the bill amounts to $582 million a page. About 17 hours and another 1511 pages of explanatory text later, the bill passed the House. The Senate quickly followed suit in the wee hours of Friday morning. The math works out to House members having about 16 seconds to speed read each page in the package, their Senate colleagues granted a more leisurely 28 seconds per page. Not to put too fine a point on it, but no one – no one – knew what they were voting on.
It’s worth putting this frantic last minute mad scramble to fund government into context.
And that context lies in the scramble happening one week shy of the six month mark of fiscal year 2018, meaning that Congress began punting back in September.
Actually, you could soundly argue that it started well before that. The House got all twelve spending bills done, but they bore little resemblance to what got enacted.
The Senate didn’t even try. Not a single FY2018 spending bill graced the Senate floor last year.
The first nine months of the year were mostly dedicated to a failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). The last three focused on jamming through a deficit-financed tax cut. Only after that, did Congressional leadership turn to their only constitutionally-mandated annual duty. And the only duty that, unlike efforts to reform health care or tax policy, has a hard deadline; pass bills funding federal agencies or the government shuts down.
And what did they do? They agreed to add about $150 billion in additional spending over budget cap levels for fiscal year 2018 and for fiscal year 2019 by adding the tab onto the $20 trillion national debt.
Quote of the Week:
“Nobody knows what’s in it. I don’t know what’s in the damn thing…I have no intention of voting for this bill until I know everything that’s in it…Whoever came up with this isn’t qualified to run a food truck.” ~ Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) on the Omnibus spending bill. For the record, he did vote against the bill.
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