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Republicans Kill the Omnibus (and the Food Safety Bill Along With It)

December 17, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

As things were coming together for Democrats on the tax bill in the House, the omnibus appropriations bill was falling apart in the Senate. Last night, Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] announced on the Senate floor that nine Republicans who who had said they would support the bill had changed their minds and were now planning to vote against it. That left the Democrats with too few votes, and Reid with no choice but to pull the bill from the floor.

According to the Senate Democrats’ calendar, Reid’s plan is now to work with Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell [R, KY] on an agreement to pass a short term continuing resolution that will keep the government funded until February or so. This will give the Republicans in the 112th Congress more power over setting spending levels and deciding which parts of the government get funding, and which don’t. That’s what this is all about. As Jamie Dupree explains, this bill has been in the works for a long time, and it has always been bipartisan:

What most people probably don’t realize is that the Omnibus bill was the product of months of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee, all of which had the backing of Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

In other words – it was Business As Usual in the Congress.

“It was a Democratic and Republican bill,” complained Sen. Reid.

But after the results of the November elections were in – where a dominant message was that Congress was spending too much money – McConnell pulled a 180 degree turn and declared his opposition to the bill, ultimately bringing other GOP Senators along with him.

The bill even contained the exact spending level requested by the Republicans. And, as for the earmarks in the bill — the top two recipients would have been Republicans. McConnell himself had 35 earmarks in it totaling $112 million. Dave Weigel at Slate suggests that the increased openness in earmarking made it hard for Republicans to play both sides of the game here and ultimately led to the fall of the bill. “The increasing transparency of the earmark process was going to make it tougher for Republicans to support this bill and get away with it.”

The Food Safety Modernization Act, which has passed both chambers but the House is refusing to send to Obama because of a minor procedural infraction, was also included in the omnibus. Democrats say they are trying to reach an agreement with Republicans on putting it in the continuing resolution, but according to a Republican aide who spoke with The Hill, that’s not going to happen and the bill is effectively dead.

Related from NRO and NPR: more behind the scenes on how the omnibus fell. And from TPM: A Primer On The Fallout Of OmnibusFAIL.

UPDATE, 12/29/10: The food safety bill ended up being revised by the Democrats and passed on 12/21/10 in a stand-alone version as a substitute amendment to H.R.2751. It’s the same exact text as the Senate version. The bill has been cleared for the White House and will be signed into law soon.

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Comments

Displaying 31-39 of 39 total comments.

  • Comm_reply
    Bunnie1978 12/17/2010 12:25pm

    Oh, and the unemployment numbers don’t accurately reflect the job market situation. People that have exhausted benefits aren’t counted in that number, and neither are people who have a job, but are looking for something better. That’s millions more on top of the 10%.

  • Comm_reply
    Mahlalie 12/17/2010 12:48pm

    I realize those numbers are not completely accurate, but “jobs created” seems far more arbitrary. The unemployment rate is more measurable, and I was actually admitting the lower unemployment under the Clinton administration.

  • beenblue 12/17/2010 11:34am

    Mr.Donny Shaw,
    May I inquire as to the 9/11 responders Bill, and where it stands currently?.

  • Comm_reply
    beenblue 12/17/2010 11:56am

    Donny, never mind I just caught it on C-span, it

  • rocky2007 12/17/2010 1:04pm

    I am very disppointed with President Obama and the fact that he allowed the tax cuts to be extended after speaking against them.I know that there are pros and cons concerning allowing them to continue, but in the end the other things that matter is a person staying by their feelings which obviously Obama did not. As far as unemployment, I hope that people realize when they reach 99 weeks, they will no longer have unemployment. This may happen way before the extension is over. It was just a way to ensure that everyone got 99 weeks and were equal.

  • poolplayer 12/17/2010 3:37pm

    So you would rather see the millions who had their unemployment expire (or about to expire) be left to starve and homeless over pride? Remind me not to be your friend if we ever meet.But remember,these tax cuts are temporary until next election. Question is, will you vote for the party that wants to make them permanent or the party that will not? Me,I think not.

  • Comm_reply
    Shadyhugs 12/18/2010 2:49am

    So slavery is acceptable when the intention behind it is morally justified? People who lay out these moral hazards as justification for encroaching upon (and even eliminating) others rights and freedoms appear much more selfish than those “millionaires and billionaires” who are so often vilified simply for being successful.

    And I wholly disagree that “A child born to a mother in poverty (likely a single mother) DOES NOT have the same opportunity to succeed as a child born into privilege.” He most certainly does. It may not be as easy to take advantage of that opportunity, and it may require more sacrifice, but it is there.

  • rocky2007 12/18/2010 2:36am

    I am not normally a view of FOX, however, one of the commentators certainly hit it right this morning. When jobs were/are out there, people do not want to take less and have to work than unemployment is paying them. They forget that unemployment is a tempoary measure and the idea of the government extending it over and over is not solving anything. When did it become the governments job to take care of you and your family? Many of these temporary jobs will turn into full time jobs but people want to keep those benefits w/o wanting to work and then complain.

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