The U.S. Congress recently passed a last-minute $1.4 trillion spending bill to keep the government running through the fall of 2021.
The omnibus spending bill, which includes a bevy of pork-barrel spending items, was coupled with a new $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill. Together, they serve as the most recent example of congressional sausage-making at its worst.
The bill, which is nearly 6,000 pages, was passed in a tizzy, well before any members of Congress actually had a chance to even browse it, let alone read it cover to cover. As Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi infamously said during the last-minute rush to pass Obamacare, “We have to pass it … so you can see what is in it.”
Of course, there’s a method to Nancy’s madness. Considering the billions in outrageous pet projects contained in the 6,000-page behemoth bill, it makes sense that Pelosi would refuse to reveal the bill’s contents to members of the House before they were forced to vote on it.
Here are just a few examples of the ridiculous items contained in the two bills:
- 1 percent pay raise for civilian employees of the federal government in 2021
- $15 billion to “save” the entertainment industry
- $15 billion in bailouts to the airlines
- $22.7 billion for colleges and universities
- Dozens of earmarks for pet projects, such as two new Smithsonian museums, millions of dollars for the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts, $35 million in sexual-abstinence programs, millions for a new presidential library in North Dakota, etc.
- Billions in foreign aid, including millions of dollars for monitoring climate change in Tibet, $10 million for “gender programs” in Pakistan, $500 million to Israel and Jordan, etc.
Obviously, many of these spending items have absolutely no business being included in legislation that is supposedly meant to help families suffering from the effects of the pandemic and its associated lockdowns.
Although the COVID-19 part of the legislative package does provide $600 stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment benefits, and more money for the Paycheck Protection Program, it is dwarfed by the government spending portion.
Unfortunately, packing legislation full of unnecessary spending and cash for special interests has become common for Congress around the holidays. In recent years, Pelosi has used the holiday crunch to cram as much pork as possible into these omnibus spending bills, which all too often are passed around Christmas, just in time for our nation’s lawmakers to return home to their families.
And although Republicans have repeatedly promised to stop these outrageous spending sprees, they never do. In the end, most Republicans agree to gargantuan bills they know the country has absolutely no way to pay for.
Sadly, it appears adorning giant spending bills with all types of earmarks, like one adorns a Christmas tree with ornaments, is how the U.S. Congress celebrates the holiday season.
PHOTO: Speaker of U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi led a U.S. congressional delegation to Ghana from July 28 -31, 2019 to commemorate the “Year of Return” and mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia. Official U.S. Embassy photograph by: Archibald Sackey and Courage Ahiati. Photo is in the public domain.
Chris Talgo ([email protected]) is an editor and research fellow at The Heartland Institute and a researcher and editor at StoppingSocialism.com.