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GOP Blasts Democrats’ $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill Containing 39,000 Earmarks – Newsroom America
Republican leaders in the Senate blasted a $1.1 trillion spending bill rolled out Tuesday by Majority Leader Harry Reid as irresponsible and “inappropriate,” complaining that much of the 1,900-page legislation was written in secret.
“It’s completely inappropriate; I’m vigorously in opposition to it,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said before vowing that Republicans would oppose the measure without significant changes.
“No one has seen it,” McConnell also said, accusing Democrats of writing the bill behind closed doors and without bipartisan input.
The measure increases spending by less than 2 percent over last year but contains thousands of earmarks which have become a focal point for congressional critics especially over the past few years as the recession deepened. In all, the bill contains an average of $575 million worth of spending per page, according to one analysis.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a longtime critic of earmarks, took to the Senate floor Tuesday evening to lament the bill’s scope and focus.
“While we continue to uncover which earmarks the appropriators decided to fund – thanks to a new online database – we at least know what earmarks were requested by Members and how much those projects would cost the American people if they were all funded,” he said.
“According to the data they compiled – for fiscal year 2011 Members requested over 39,000 earmarks totaling over $130 billion. Absolutely disgraceful,” McCain said, adding that as of Tuesday evening his staff had identified “6,488 earmarks totaling nearly $8.3 billion.”
Democrats countered that a number of those earmarks were going to states of GOP critics, including projects in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky.
As for Reid, he has threatened to hold the Congress in Washington until Jan. 4, thereby extending the lame duck session through the holidays, to get the spending bill passed.
Some Democrats are supportive of GOP critics who want further austerity measures incorporated into any spending bill lawmakers ultimately back.
Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri said in a letter to Reid Tuesday she will not vote for the spending bill if it doesn’t include caps for the next three fiscal years.
“I think that’s an essential part of our decisions going forward as it relates to federal spending. And without that provision being included, I will not vote for the omnibus spending bill,” she said.
McCaskell and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., an amendment to cap the growth of discretionary spending at an average of 1.5 percent each year through Fiscal Year 2013. McCaskell said the spending caps would not apply to the military and could be waived in cases of emergency, such as droughts, floods, or terrorist attacks, but only with 60 votes.
McCain said the massive bill is not what the American people were looking for out of Washington, as evidenced by the midterm election results.
“One thing is abundantly clear to me – that the majority has not learned the lessons of last month’s election,” he said. “The American people could not have been more clear. They are tired of wasteful spending. They are tired of big government. They are tired of sweetheart deals for special interests. They are tired of business as usual in Washington.
“And they are tired of massive bills – just like this one – put together behind closed doors, and rammed through the Congress at the last moment so that no one has the opportunity to read them and no one really knows what kind of waste is in them,” he said.
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