Congressional leaders are again bullying rank-and-file members into passing a massive funding package under the threat of a government shutdown.
The new omnibus spending bill is merely the latest evidence that Congress’s dismal 22 percent approval rating is well deserved. The Democratic majorities in both chambers spent much of the year accomplishing very little — not even passing a budget resolution as required by law. They failed to enact a single appropriations bill by the October 1 fiscal new year, and failed to bring to the floor even popular bills such as the Electoral Count Act. The Senate held just 137 recorded votes related to legislation in the first 50 weeks of the year. In an earlier era, 137 votes would have constituted a productive week.
Conservatives may hail an unproductive Congress as evidence that lawmakers are resisting the urge to spend and regulate. But unfortunately, they’d be wrong: Congress was saving up for a year-end spending spree. In what has become a Christmas tradition, House and Senate leaders waited until the last minute and then stapled together 35 separate bills into a $2 trillion omnibus spending bill. Rank-and-file lawmakers have been duly warned that there is not enough time for them to read and absorb the contents of the mammoth 4,155-page bill (plus the 2,600 pages of explanatory statements that further define the spending). Nor may they be allowed to offer any changes or amendments to the package. After all, parts of the government are only days from shutting down, the 117th Congress is about to adjourn, and most importantly, no one wants to be in Washington, D.C., come Christmas.
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