At least 18 Republicans joined all Senate Democrats to pass a $1.85 trillion omnibus spending bill Thursday afternoon, in the final two weeks in which Democrats control the House of Representatives.
The bill passed 68-29. Since there are 47 Democrats in the Senate and 3 Independents who caucus with Democrats, at least 18 Republicans voted to support the package.
Conservatives called the move during the lame-duck session a “stunning act of betrayal.” Democrats have had both branches of Congress and the presidency during all of 2022, conservatives say, but rushed to pass this budget bill only after Republicans won a House majority in November.
Since 1994, the House majority has changed four times. In each case, the outgoing majority didn’t pass an omnibus appropriations bill during the lame-duck session following the election. In each case, the outgoing majority left the hard work of legislating to the representatives the American people had just elected.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, warned that Republicans would be voluntarily abandoning their ability to hold the Biden administration accountable for the next year.
The omnibus bill would fund the government through September 2023. It includes military funding for Ukraine, a ban on the Chinese-owned TikTok app on federal government devices, and millions in funding for “woke” earmarks such as LGBTQIA+ Pride Centers, a Michele Obama Trail in Georgia, and the TransLatin@ Coalition. The spending bill does not include the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal tax dollars from going to fund elective abortions.
Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel noted that the omnibus package includes “dozens of pieces of stand-alone legislation” on issues such as retirement, public lands management, health care policy, electoral count reform, and aviation rules.
Although the House and Senate appropriations committees state that the omnibus bill would cost $1.7 trillion, Richard Stern, a senior policy analyst for budget policy at The Heritage Foundation, says the bill would cost at least $1.85 trillion in fiscal year 2023, which began Oct. 1. (The Daily Signal is The Heritage Foundation’s multimedia news organization.)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., defended the spending bill.
“Providing assistance for Ukrainians to defeat the Russians is the number one priority for the United States right now according to most Republicans,” McConnell said. “That’s how we see the challenges confronting the country at the moment.”
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., defended the bill, saying that it would help Afghan refugees.
Critics, however, note that the omnibus spending package contains 6,825 pages: 4,155 pages of legislative text plus 2,670 pages of explanatory materials to instruct agencies on how to carry out the provisions. It also includes at least 4,000 earmarks to pay for the pet projects of senators and representatives.
“With this vote, these Republican senators have committed a stunning act of betrayal of their constituents and the American people,” Stern told The Daily Signal. “With less than two weeks until the new Congress, they have shamefully voted to deny the incoming conservative House majority the use of its power of the purse to rein in Biden and his cronies.”
“This omnibus will add to inflationary pressures, saddling the nation with at least another $20,000 per household in needless debt and will expand the power of the woke Left,” Stern added.
Matthew Dickerson, director of The Heritage Foundation’s budget center, also slammed the Senate vote.
“This massive omnibus bill will cost taxpayers about $1.9 trillion next year at a time when American families are hurting from high inflation and the government is already $31 trillion in debt,” Dickerson told The Daily Signal. “It’s filled with woke earmarks and advances the Left’s big-government policy agenda.”
“The 118th Congress needs to be committed to reversing the growth of harmful government spending and inflation,” he added, referring to the Congress that convenes Jan. 3.
Heritage Action for America, the leading think tank’s grassroots affiliate, announced that it would mark a vote on the omnibus spending bill as a “key vote” for its legislative scorecard, urging all members of Congress to vote “no” on the bill.
Article cross-posted from Daily Signal.