This afternoon, the House passed Harry Reid’s first minibus appropriations bill (Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Transportation-HUD), which contains record levels of spending for Food Stamps, WIC, and International Food Aid. It also contains $2.3 billion for disaster spending, which is excluded from the budget caps. Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers promised today on the House floor that spending will not exceed the $1.043 trillion spending cap. Well, the extra $2.3 billion in disaster spending allowed him to do just that. Moreover, if they continue to adopt the higher spending levels of the Democrats, the only way to stay below the cap will be to cut defense appropriations. Worse, this bill has a provision, which was inserted into the conference report, to expand the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Last year, as part of their ‘Pledge To America,‘ Republicans promised to downsize Freddie/Fannie. They also promised to end the practice of minibus bills. Today, they violated both pledges. Yes, we know that mantra; it’s a minibus bill; not an omnibus. But the reality is that House Republicans never had an opportunity to vote and amend two-thirds of the bill.
Fortunately, more and more members are hearing the voice of the grassroots. Even though the ‘don’t call it an Omnibus’ bill passed 298-121, it was opposed by 101 Republicans, and only passed with the help of Democrats. In the Senate, Jim DeMint and David Vitter have already blocked Harry Reid from passing a second minibus bill. So what is the response of the political appropriations establishment? This, from CQ:
With the apparent collapse of the Senate leadership strategy of packaging overdue spending bills in small bundles, the top House appropriator is preparing to wrap the remaining bills into a single measure.
During a meeting of the Rules Committee on Wednesday, Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., outlined his plan for an omnibus package including nine of the regular spending bills for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
Congress “will have to put together a rest of the bus,” Rogers said.