Thursday, December 10, 2009

Appropriations Bills Move Forward.

What's another 1,000 pages of legislation among friends, huh?

All remaining appropriations bills with the exception of Defense, have been rolled into a single bill and passed the House. Open Congress is calling it a minibus (as opposed to omnibus) but that is only because it doesn't include defense. There is nothing mini about the spending.

Here's the Heritage Foundation on the spending bill:

Congressional leaders are attempting to rush through a mammoth, 1,088-page fiscal year (FY) 2010 omnibus appropriation bill[1] that:

  • Provides an 8 percent discretionary spending hike for the third consecutive year;
  • Provides these spending hikes in addition to $311 billon in earlier stimulus funding for these discretionary programs; and
  • Includes approximately 5,224 earmarks, bringing the FY 2010 total to 8,939, with a pork-laden defense bill expected to push the final total over 10,000.
As worrying as the size of the bill is the manner in which it has moved through the House. Here's Open Congress on the process:
We’ve been advocating for a 72-hour rule for a long time, and I was planning to use this post to show that the bill was not going to be available online for 72 hours before a vote. Before I could do that, it was approved in the House (by a vote of 221-202, full roll call coming soon). We don’t even have a page on the bill here on OpenCongress yet.

That the bill wasn’t online for 72 hours is, in itself, not the biggest consideration: it is a 1,000+ page piece of legislation that contains more than a trillion dollars in spending for five of the largest federal agencies in the country, plus Medicare and Medicaid
Senatus reports that the Senate has now voted to begin debate and then quotes the Associated Press description of the bill:

Senators have agreed to begin debate on an omnibus spending bill (H.R. 3288) by a vote of 56 to 43. The measure was recently adopted by a House-Senate conference committee. House members passed it earlier today by a vote of 221-202.

The AP notes that this is a “massive year-end spending bill awarding generous funding boosts to domestic programs despite massive budget deficits.”

The wrapup measure totals $1.1 trillion, combining six spending bills for 10 Cabinet departments into a 1,088-page bundle packed with more than 5,000 back-home projects sought by lawmakers.


The bill combines $447 billion in operating budgets for 10 Cabinet departments with more than $600 billion for federal benefit programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

The borrow and spend method of governance (if you can call it that) cannot go on forever. When the end comes though, will it be because the citizenry demands it or because total ruin is upon us and there is simply no alternative.

I'd still like to think that it is not too late to change our ways, but lately I'm not so sure.

***Updated - Senatus reports cloture invoked. Be sure to click through and read the "additional provisions" of the bill.***