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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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Displaying 31-39 of 39 total comments.

Mahlalie 12/17/2010 12:03pm
in reply to Jgetty80 Dec 17, 2010 9:00am

Tax cuts are incapable of adding debt. Only spending can add debt. People don’t go into debt automatically. They go into debt because they spend more than they have.

Tax cuts hit their current levels with the 2003 rates at which point the unemployment rate dropped. Incidentally, the unemployment rate dropped when President Reagans tax cuts kicked in full force as well.

Unemployment rates were dropping before the tax hike in 1993. President Clinton got on for the ride of the Internet boom. He was also helped along by some conservative policies like welfare reform.

I don’t believe in that jobs lost/created crap. I’ll take the unemployment numbers.


beenblue 12/17/2010 11:56am
in reply to beenblue Dec 17, 2010 11:34am

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

Bunnie1978 12/17/2010 11:49am
in reply to Bunnie1978 Dec 17, 2010 11:49am

Some statistics about America’s population that live in poverty: About 38 million people (in 2002) meet the criteria for being classified as poor. Close to half are outside of working age, mostly too young to work (CHILDREN). The majority of poor are white or Latino. 38% of the poor population is single parent families.

Similar statistics can be shown for the obstacles faced by minorities or women. The fact is, a rich white male has every opportunity. Is it odd that most of the wealthy are Republicans???

Henslin, J. M. (2005). Sociology; A Down to Earth Approach (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson.
The Statistical Abstract 2002

Bunnie1978 12/17/2010 11:49am
in reply to Mahlalie Dec 17, 2010 10:21am

There is an enormous gap in opportunity between the social classes. For example, compared to the middle and upper classes, the poor die sooner, have more mental problems, higher divorce rates, less access to education, and more likely to be a victim or perpetrator of violent crime.

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 does, however, have a small chance for upward mobility (past his mother on the social ladder), but not enough to say that he has equal opportunity.

To be continued..

beenblue 12/17/2010 11:34am

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

Mahlalie 12/17/2010 10:21am
in reply to Bunnie1978 Dec 17, 2010 8:15am

“Research show otherwise.” Source?

Jgetty80 12/17/2010 9:00am

Isn’t this funny! President Obama gives the republicans exactly what they want in the tax cut bill that adds almost a trillion dollars to the debt by giving millionaires and billionaires a tax cut that they do not need. The lower taxes haven’t worked for the past ten years. If they’re worried about paying taxes on their money, give me your money and I’ll pay the taxes. President Clinton raised the taxes in 1993 and 22 million jobs were created in the 90’s. How many jobs were created under Bush? All the republicans know how to do is say no. It could be their idea but if President Obama says yes that’s a good idea, I’m for it. All of a sudden, republicans are against it because the President likes it. Republicans are hypocrites. They put their hundreds of millions of dollars in earsmarks in this bill and now they say “we don’t like earmarks, we’re voting against this”. The tax bill that was just passed adds over 100 times the amount to the deficit.

Toolmakersdaughter 12/17/2010 8:16am

I wouldn’t start celebrating just yet. Reid is a man that plays dirty pool. Just look at how the shoved through Obamacare after we thought it was dead as a doornail. NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO CELEBRATE! Stay vigilant and watch Reid like a hawk.

Bunnie1978 12/17/2010 8:15am

You know, I’m glad this is bill is dead. I’m a Democrat all the way – I long for a more collectivist America not driven only by money. And I long for an America where everyone truly does have equal opportunity to contribute to a better world in a meaningful way. Some people (Republicans) hold a delusional, or at least naive, view that this is how America is now. Research shows otherwise.

That being said, I don’t think our federal elected officials should be spending any time or money on issues that don’t affect each state equally. Perhaps another way to deal with special projects is in order. Perhaps each state should be forced to learn how to create and manage their own budgets.

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