Where are the Republican Defectors who could defeat the Lame-Duck Spending Bill

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Republican Defectors Only Way Congress’ Colossal Lame-Duck Spending Bill Might Pass

Congressional Democrats—with some Republican help—are close to passing a colossal spending bill, reports indicate.

It’s bad news for America.

The omnibus was on my list of lame-duck legislation to watch out for, and as of now the so-called omnibus bill looks like it’s on track to pass and land on President Joe Biden’s desk.

As Eric Teetsel, vice president of government relations at The Heritage Foundation, wrote for The Daily Signal, passing such a spending bill during the lame-duck session before the next Congress convenes Jan. 3 would be highly unusual. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)

“Since 1994, control of the House has changed hands in four midterm election cycles (1994, 2006, 2010, and 2018),” he wrote. “Never before has the outgoing House majority passed an omnibus appropriations bill during the lame-duck session following the election.”

Typically, spending during the lame-duck session takes the form of smaller, short-term appropriations. More on that later.

It’s been hard to track in the past few years, given the mind-boggling amount of government expenditure during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But what’s on the table is no small stopgap measure to keep the government running. It’s a bloated monstrosity that will commit the nation to over $1.5 trillion in additional spending, much of it worse than useless. It only will add to the inflation that is wiping out the finances of millions of Americans.

Now the omnibus spending bill is morphing into even more, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday that he would wrap the Electoral Count Act and Ukraine funding into the legislation too.

The omnibus passed the Democrat-controlled House earlier in 2022, but got bogged down as Democrats focused on other priorities. Now they’re trying to push it through the Senate at the very last second or, depending on how you look at the lame-duck session, just after the last second.

What’s important to understand is that this massive spending bill, which undermines the prerogative of the next Congress, can’t pass without Republicans’ help. The lame-duck Senate is split 50-50 in a partisan breakdown, which means Democrats need 10 Republicans to vote in favor to get past a filibuster.

It appears that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is pushing for lawmakers to make a deal, as long as he can get increased defense spending.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, delivered a letter to McConnell, signed by several other senators, calling an embrace of this omnibus spending bill a “reflection of poor leadership.” 

Here’s what Lee wrote:

Since taking office, President Biden has overseen a $4.8 trillion increase in the national deficit, costing the average American household an estimated $753 more a month. It should be up to the new Congress to set spending priorities for the remainder of this fiscal year.

In an op-ed for Fox News, Lee and Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., explain why the country can’t afford this “Pelosi-Schumer spending bomb” and lambasted it as a dereliction of duty if Republicans allow the omnibus spending bill to pass during the lame-duck session.

“The national debt has grown by nearly $5 TRILLION to an insane $31 TRILLION, causing record inflation that is nearly four times higher than the Federal Reserve target of 2%,” they write. 

Lee and Scott note that in the five times control of Congress has changed since 1954, lawmakers didn’t pass an omnibus spending bill before the new majority took power.

Again, even if Senate Democrats want to break this precedent, Republicans have the power to stop it if they all remain opposed.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, expected to become the next House speaker in the new year, voiced opposition to the huge spending bill, saying that every Senate Republican should vote “no.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said in an interview with Fox News Channel host Laura Ingraham that GOP lawmakers should “obviously punt it to the next Congress,” where Republicans will have a House majority and leverage for a better outcome.

This seems almost too obvious to point out, unless one considers that McConnell and other Republican crossovers actually think they will get a better bill with Democrats effectively in the driver’s seat. That would say a lot.

Writing for The Federalist on Tuesday, Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Tenn., explains that the best thing for Republicans to do right now would be to insist on a short-term continuing resolution as a stopgap solution until the next Congress takes charge in a few weeks. 

Ogles acknowledges that this solution would cause headaches for the Defense Department and limit some defense spending. However, he writes, this concern would be better addressed by lawmakers’ fixing the way they craft budgets in the new year rather than by letting defense spending be the rider by which a massively wasteful, across-the-board spending plan got through Congress.

“Democrats desperately want one last opportunity to pass their radical, toxic agenda—but they need 10 Republicans to agree,” Ogles writes. “That must not be allowed to happen.”

Lee has suggested a continuing resolution too. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats blocked the proposal Tuesday.

The omnibus spending bill is an unacceptable escalation of fiscal irresponsibility. We hardly saved for that proverbial rainy day before the pandemic; now lawmakers treat trillion-dollar-plus spending bills as if they are just business as usual. Of course, the real crises—such as the disintegrating southern border—get ignored. 

The American people should have a Congress that does more than just endlessly rubber-stamp more spending.

By Jarrett Stepman is a columnist for The Daily Signal. Original here. Reproduced with permission.