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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Spending bill no one read but voted for anyway

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) shows the 2,232 pages of the budget passed by Congress late Thursday night and into the wee hours of Friday morning. Like other members of Congress, he didn’t have time to read it before voting. (Twitter photo)

The Republican Congress passed a $1.3 trillion spending for fiscal 2018 (which began on Oct. 1 of last year) and adds $140 billion in military and domestic spending.

The bill is a rarity in president Donald Trump’s Washington because it did not give him even close to what he wants and denies him the vision of the federal government in many ways. In most cases with Trump, Republicans simply bend over, grab their ankles and ask “may I have another, sir?”

He didn’t get anywhere near what he demanded on his ill-conceived border wall between the United States and Mexico, kept funding for the National Endowment for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and gave the National Institutes of Health and additional $3 billion instead of the massive cuts he demanded.

“Sometimes you save the president from themselves,” said Republican Rep. Tom Cole, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Democratic Rep. Nita M. Lowey of New York, also on the committee, said the bill “repudiates the abysmal Trump budget, investing robustly in critical priorities like child care, transportation infrastructure, national security, election protection, medical research, opioid abuse prevention and treatment, veterans’ health services and much more.”

Trump doesn’t like the new bill but realizes a veto would shut the government down and that is something he must avoid as he battles his many distractions and scandals.

And the GOP-led Congress continues to turn to free-spending ways with debt-busting bills that it cannot fund in the face of the tax cuts for the wealthy passed late last year.

Conservatives on Capitol Hill are more angry than Trump.  Freedom Caucus founding member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) calls the budget “maybe the worst I’ve ever seen” and predicts Republicans will face payback from the voters who backed them in the 2016 election.

Says Jordan:

Nov. 8, 2016, I doubt that the voters were saying, “Put Republicans in power so that they can pass a bill that continues to fund sanctuary cities, continues to fund Planned Parenthood.”  Really? Really? That’s what the election was about?

Members of Congress who face critical midterm elections later this year must explain to voters why they voted for spending bills that has driven the national debt to more than $21 trillion.

“Every Republican would vote against this disgusting pork bill is a Democrat were president,” Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska says.  “This spending kegger is a wildly irresponsible use of taxpayers’ money, and the president should not sign it.”

As happens with last-minute budgets and spending bills, members of Congress had no time to read the 2,232 pages, nor did any member of their staffs.

“I’m upset that we’re spending like every Democrat that we criticized,” says Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican who has tried to block such bills in the past but abandoned any plans to do so this time.

“No one has read it.  Congress is broken,” Paul tweeted Thursday.  “Victory for conservatives today is that all of America now knows what a budget busting bomb this bill is.”

“In all honesty, none of us know what is actually in this bill,” said Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts.

Republicans admit privately that the budget scraps any and all claims of fiscal discipline that many of them promised when voters gave them control of the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014.

Yet they will join their colleagues in claiming victory in ramming an unread bill through Congress at the last-minute.

That’s the way Congress and Washington works…or doesn’t work.  In the end, it may not matter.

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