Congress is racing against Mother Nature and a government shutdown to pass a $1.7 trillion spending bill spanning more than 4,000 pages, even as lawmakers complain there’s no time to process what’s actually being funded. The massive spending bill comes as the U.S. is already more than $31 trillion debt.
The government would begin shutting down Saturday if more funding isn’t passed, and some in Congress are hoping the threat of a snowstorm will get the 4,155-page bill passed as soon as Wednesday, POLITICO reported.
But the bill was unveiled only in the early hours of Tuesday morning, leaving lawmakers precious little time to parse the vast budget that funds a wishlist of policies in addition to standard government functions.
About half of the bill’s funding is going toward the military, which is getting a 10 percent bump up to $858 billion, POLITICO reported. The bill wound fund another $772 billion in domestic programs. It also allocates as much as $47 billion for Ukraine.
In examples highlighted on Twitter by Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC), the mammoth bill also includes a litany of quieter provisions.
One of those is about $77,000 for the Equity Institute, a non-profit that seeks to create an “antiracist education system.” That funding was requested by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
“If an additional $47 billion in Ukraine funding isn’t enough for you, the bill also authorizes a ‘Ukrainian Independence Park’ right here in DC,” Bishop tweeted. “Also, monuments for journalists and service animals…”
“On a more sinister note,” Bishop added, “here’s at least $575 million for ‘family planning’ in areas where population growth ‘threatens biodiversity.’ Malthusianism is a disturbing, anti-human ideology that should have ZERO place in any federal program.”
The bill also names a lake after Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), a federal building after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and puts $3.6 million toward an existing walking trail in Georgia named after former First Lady Michelle Obama.
The bill also puts $410 million toward “enhanced border security” for Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Oman, and sets $1.4 billion aside for dues paid to international organizations like the United Nations.
The “omnibus” spending bill is a wide-ranging collection of funding lumped together for a single vote in each chamber of Congress. Omnibus bills have long been common practice in Congress, but some see them as undemocratic and too difficult to scrutinize.
Addressing the media, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) called the situation “legislative barbarism” and “extortion.”
“They deliberately contrived this shutdown threat,” he said. “They drop it on us at the last possible moment.”
He appeared beside a high pile of papers, apparently the bill, sitting on a wheeled cart. Signs hung on the cart warning of “1.7 TRILLION OF HAZARDOUS DEBT,” which one sign said is the “GREATEST THREAT TO OUR NATIONAL SECURITY.”
New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer defended the process, saying the bill “has been carefully worked on by the Appropriations Committee for a very long time,” POLITICO reported.
“Most of the provisions in the bill were well known weeks and weeks and weeks in advance,” Schumer said Tuesday.