I am CRomnibus, Hear Me Roar!

While we weren’t watching, Congress quietly passed a continuing resolution/omnibus bill to avoid a government shutdown and fund the government through FY 2015. The bill basically keeps spending flat and funds everything except the Department of Homeland Security, which will be the stage for a fight over Obama’s immigration orders.

I don’t have a problem with the budget, per se. Flat spending is OK, especially with revenues growing. Addressing the long-term problem is going to require entitlement reform, which is unlikely to happen while Obama is in the White House. But, as I said a month ago, I’d prefer the Republicans put together a reform package to balance the budget long term and force Obama to veto it.

What’s really gotten attention, however, are the riders on the bill, which are laws unrelated to the budget itself. I’ll go through them quickly.

  • The most controversial is the effort to block marijuana legalization in DC. It forbids the DC government from funding marijuana regulation. I think you can probably guess that I hate this provision. The DC voters decided to legalize pot. It’s ridiculous for Congress to override them like this and a worrisome sign that Republicans are going to fall on the wrong side of history. Again.
  • The bill increases the limits on what people can donate to political parties. I don’t really have a problem with this since organizations can give tens of millions if they want.
  • They have given some schools flexibility in how they meet the new nutrition requirements for school lunches. Considering that I think these new requirements are based on junk science and are going to leave active kids starving, I’ll take this baby step on the way to repealing the regulations completely.
  • They blocked the EPA from adding the sage grouse to the endangered species list. I don’t know much about this issue, but my impression is that the grouse is declining but not in danger of extinction.
  • They forbad the government from spending money painting portraits of government officials and committee chairs. Good. Let them pay for their own damn portraits. We pay them enough.
  • They extended the time that incandescent bulbs can be manufactured. Considering that I’m typing this by the dim light of a worthless CFC bulb, I’m fine with this.
  • They required the WIC program to include more fresh veggies. Sure.
  • They forestalled requiring truckers to get more sleep. I’m supportive of this law because I know someone who was nearly killed by a sleepy long-haul truck driver. This is one of those rare times I think the incentives are lined up badly and we need a regulation. Not that I expect truckers to obey it anyway; a trucker friend once showed me how to fake the logs to make it look like you’re getting the required sleep.
  • Some clean water rules are delayed in farming areas. Sure.
  • Gitmo prisoners can’t come to the United States. I’ve indicated that I would prefer these guys be tried, but that idea isn’t going anywhere.
  • They rolled back a provision of Dodd-Frank that forbids banks from using FDIC-backed money to trade in derivatives. This was one of the few Dodd-Frank provisions I liked. If banks want to play financial games, that’s fine. But I don’t want to have to bail them out when it inevitably blows up in their faces.
  • The bill blocks the IRS from targeting certain groups. This is fine, but I don’t see any reason why the IRS would obey a second law forbidding them from doing what they’re already doing.
  • The bill mandates sexual harassment training for Hill staffers. Sure. Everyone else in the country has to get sexual harassment training. Why should Congress be exempt?
  • So, a mixed bag overall. But what’s hilarious is that the liberals are screaming bloody murder over this, as if attaching unrelated riders to a budget bill is something that was invented this week. Our government has constantly done this. There’s even a phrase for it: land-mine legislation. Huge encroachments on our liberty are passed this way all the time.

    And to complain about the DC marijuana initiative being shut down this way is blazing hypocrisy. Yes, I think it was a bad thing to do. But when Barack Obama used the “stimulus” bill to shut down the DC Voucher program, we didn’t hear a peep out out of the liberals. So should the government of DC only have sovereignty when they’re doing something you like?

    I think we know the answer to that.

    Comments are closed.

    1. Miguelito

      They required the WIC program to include more fresh veggies. Sure.

      I’ve seen the WIC rider described as “They’re lowering funding by $90+million! Children will starve!!!!111″

      WIC and the EBT food”stamps” stuff needs to be cut WAY back IMNSHO. Those systems are seriously abused and seem to just be another form of redistribution these days. I regularly see people using WIC and then getting into brand new, high cost cars in the parking lot.

      My sister and brother in law even qualified for it years ago after their first kid was born. I remember thinking it made no sense, they weren’t at all broke. But my brother in law (at the time, she finally wised up) was a dick that would take advantage of any such system when he could. So they used it. I need to ask my sister some time if she ever felt (or still feels) guilty about using it.

      Honestly, I think something that would help this country would be a reform (which would likely require an amendment, sadly) that did something like restricted law creation to:
      Single issue (no riders)
      All laws need to be available to the public a minimum of 72 hours before voting. With some formula adding days for each page over 3 pages or some other system (so the longer a bill, the longer it would have to be made available, and any changes reset the clock based on a formula as well). Some would complain that this would essentially make it very hard to pass huge laws.. that’s a feature, not a bug.
      All laws expire automatically. I’d set them to something like 10 or 20 years. If a law works and makes sense, there’s no reason it can’t be easily re-voted before expiration.

      A system like the above would trim down all the crap in play now and things that are good for the people would be easy to keep renewing. The whole system of “3 laws broken a day” would, hopefully, fade away.

      Why we now rate the “effectiveness” of the congress on the number of laws passed each year… I’ll never understand. Other than from the statist point of view, I suppose.

      Thumb up 0

    2. Miguelito

      The bill blocks the IRS from targeting certain groups. This is fine, but I don’t see any reason why the IRS would obey a second law forbidding them from doing what they’re already doing.

      Just like a little more gun control… it’ll stop all the gun violence caused by the people ignoring the existing laws on the books.

      Thumb up 2

    3. Section8

      But, as I said a month ago, I’d prefer the Republicans put together a reform package to balance the budget long term and force Obama to veto it.

      And this will accomplish what outside of a symbolic gesture? Will it stop the executive orders such as amnesty? He’ll simply veto, give his excuse and each side will do their usual reaction. Of course if the GOP pressed on to the point of a government shutdown you’d be the first to flip flop. For any true reform to ever happen outside of the realm of nice to have theories, folks like you will have to be willing to realize there will have to be a fight for it. Of course you know that already.

      Thumb up 0

    4. Hal_10000 *

      I see that idiot Cruz opened Congress for an extra day to talk about cromnibus. As a result, the lame duck Senate pushed through a whole bunch of nominations.

      Thumb up 0

    5. Section8

      One of the big names going through is Murthy. Flip ^^ Flop >> Just a few weeks ago you said the GOP should stop trying to stonewall these things. For Christ’s sake Hal don’t throw your back out so close to Christmas.

      Let’s not forget those idiot American voters voted Republican and as a result the lame duck President ordered amnesty to illegal aliens. So what’s your point Hal? Do you know for a fact the Dems wouldn’t have just started debate on Monday anyhow? Do your usual though.

      Thumb up 2

    6. Section8

      Here’s the fine print to Hal latest bullshit extravaganza…

      Link

      The breakdown occurred Friday night. Reid and McConnell believed they had a deal to delay consideration of the omnibus spending package until Monday and pass a stopgap funding measure that would keep the government afloat through Wednesday. Over McConnell’s objections, Reid planned to begin processing the president’s stalled nominations next week, including a number of federal district judicial nominees and several controversial executive branch nominees, like Vivek Murthy to be the new surgeon general, White House adviser Tony Blinken to be the deputy secretary of State and Sarah Saldana to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement

      [emphasis mine]

      On the next page …

      After Lee objected, Reid saw an opening. He brought the Senate back into session Saturday to begin processing nominations through a series of procedural votes. Senior Republicans were furious. By skipping a weekend session, McConnell had hoped that Reid would relent on nominations next week as senators grew anxious about returning home for the holidays. But the Lee-Cruz strategy essentially gave Democrats an opening to begin the process Saturday.

      And here in lies the problem with the GOP establishment and the Hals who pretend they’re against the establishment until they’re for it. They *hope* the other side will just give up. Unfortunate the only side that does is the GOP. I for one am glad there are a few willing to fight. In the end if they don’t give up they will win, and then the Hals of the world can safely come out from behind the wall and say they were there behind them all along. That’s if Hal’s not out campaigning for Chief Lizzy What’s Her Tribe in two years.

      What do you stand for Hal other than promoting a cause via the paper tiger?

      Thumb up 2