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The Senate Omnibus Arrives

December 15, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

On top of the tax deal, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the DREAM Act and the nuclear arms treaty, Congress has to pass spending legislation by this weekend to keep the government funded and avoid furloughs of federal employees. The House passed legislation last week to simply continue the current funding levels through the rest of the fiscal year, but the Senate wants to do it in a way that looks something like the regular appropriations process. That means we’re looking at thousands of earmarks, pet projects, and policy tweaks via budgeting.

The Senate released the details of their omnibus appropriations bill last night. It combines the 12 appropriations divisions that are usually done separately into one 1,924-page, $1.1 trillion mega-bill.

On the earmark front, early analyses indicate there are about 6,178 congressional-directed spending items in the bill at a cost of about $8 billion. This is actually a lot less earmarking than usual — last year, for example, the appropriations bills contained 9,499 earmarks at a cost of $15.9 billion — but a lot of folks are still calling it excessive because they view the midterm elections as having been about spending.

The top earmarkers in the omnibus are Sen. Thad Cochran [R, MS] with 230, Sen. Roger Wicker [R, MS] with 199 and Sen. Patty Murray [D, WA] with 172.

Beyond earmarks proper, the omnibus contains pet projects that members have been pushing but haven’t secured yet. For example, there’s a new forest jobs bill in there that would mandate logging in some national parks, increased funding for border patrol agents, a brand new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, and new nuclear loan guarantees.

The Hill reports that several Senate Republicans are planning to support the bill, so it should pass later this week when it comes up for a vote:

“That’s my intention,” said retiring Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) when asked if he would support the package.

Bennett said earmarks in the bill might give some of his GOP colleagues reason to hesitate but wouldn’t affect his vote.

“It will be tough for some, but not for me,” he said.

GOP Sens. Kit Bond (Mo.), George Voinovich (Ohio) and Susan Collins (Maine) also told The Hill on Tuesday they would consider voting for the omnibus but want to review it before making a final decision.

“I hope to be able to vote for one,” Bond said of the omnibus. “We’ve got to look what’s in it.

Pictured above is Senate Appropriations Chairman Sen. Daniel Inouye [D, HI].

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Comments

  • beenblue 12/15/2010 7:30am

    The forest jobs bill, and logging in National forests, was a Bush policy that cut the public out of the public land management decision making process, and to give logging companies virtually free access to our National Forests, where the logging Companies choose the largest, most commercially viable trees for thinning. This according to scientific consensus, and veteran firefighters is just increasing the fire danger. But what`s missing, is the failure to mention the bill for (9/11) first responders that`s been held hostage to the republican agenda of just say NO, until they get the Bush tax cut passed and balloon the deficit another 900 billion. Nothing, and I mean nothing has changed.

  • njvixen 12/15/2010 8:07am

    Nothing is going to change until the middle class of this country revolts and takes back their government. We are over taxed, underpaid and our government turns their backs on us when we need them most. Everyday I hear about yet another corrupt politician..one rotten apple spoils the bunch. We need to replace the House and the Senate with everyday people picked from a lottery. LEGAL AMERICAN BORN CITIZENS. I think that would shake things up a bit.

  • Comm_reply
    beenblue 12/15/2010 9:58am

    It would be foolish of me to disagree. Why is it that the minorities capture, and garner so much attention in news and media spotlight, yet the epidemic of the unemployed, and the perils to be faced by them is for the most part overlooked?. This so reminds me of the movie (The Matrix). Even the journalists in so called mainstream are refusing to be objective to the overall restructuring of the world, and it`s ramifications. Personally, and in my opinion, the crime of the century is going untold, while being carried out in plain view, as if taunting us, to try something. Like I said, it would be foolish of me to disagree.

  • Abaratarrr 12/15/2010 5:51pm

    get ready Washington, this is just the tip of the ice burg, people are desperate and have nothing to loose, please provide more weeks of benefits for the long term unemployed. This bill does not help the long term unemployed, Obama lied to the nation when he said that the bill extends unemployment for 13 months, the bill just extends the deadline to sign up for the current benefits, it provides no new weeks, this is why this man is dead.

    This is an interview with the wife of the 99er in Florida who’s life ended too soon. I hope that she will be OK

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPsMKXlB4eQ

    Contact Nancy Pelosi today (202) 225-4965 or AmericanVoices@mail.house.gov, more benefits for the long term unemployed is entirely up to her at this point, let her know that the 13 month extension proposed by Obama does nothing for the long term unemployed.

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