Omnibus Bill Thwarts Transparency, Accountability


Regardless of what happens to the Omnibudgetbusterblusterbus bill — sorry, my fingers slipped — the Omnibus spending bill (made searchable by our friends at the Heritage Foundation), it’s fair to say that citizen oversight of Congress (and congressional oversight of Congress, for whatever that’s worth) took a shot to the chin today. The Hill’s Alex Bolton reports that the bill’s 3,565 pages contain somewhere between 8,983 earmarks (according to Taxpayers for Common Sense), 9,200 earmarks (according to a Senate staffer) and 11,402 earmarks (according to Heritage’s excellent Ominibuster blog). There are hundreds of new earmarks previously undisclosed–115 worth $117 million in the previously “earmark free” Homeland Security bill–that have been “airdropped” in at the last minute.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn just noted on C-Span (I’m watching as I type) that the bill weighs in at a hefty 35 pounds when printed. Members have only a few hours to digest all that paper before voting. The bill will appropriate something like hundreds of billions of dollars in funds. In what other arena of life do you make such momentous decisions with so little time to think? “Rush into that subprime mortgage,” “buy that stock of a company you’d never heard of before,” “a week is plenty of time to find out if someone is worth marrying,” — thus does our Congress decide how to spend our money. This is primarily a failure of the majority (regardless of which party is in the majority–the Republicans were equally opaque) and of leadership, which prefers to dump a monstrosity of a bill–stitched together behind closed doors–on their colleagues with no time for debate, and no time for their constituents to make their opinions known.