Congress needs to reconsider the new $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, White House legislative director Marc Short said. Short urged Republican leader Mitch McConnell to pare back this bipartisan spending deal, Reuters reported today.
On the evening of March 21, congressional leaders unveiled a massive 2,232-page, $1.3 trillion spending bill covering everything from opioids to border security. A day later, the House and Senate passed the bill. Two days later, President Trump signed the bill into law, despite being “unhappy” about it. Initially, Trump was considering a veto on the bill, but backed down. This change of heart “highlighted the precarious state the legislation has been in all week,” Vox reported.
Senator Rand Paul live-tweeted passages of the bill, illustrating how bizarre the entire situation was.
“The House already started votes on it. The Senate is expected to soon. No one has read it. Congress is broken,” Paul began.
The omnibus spending bill saga has not reached its epilogue yet.
“Nobody saw the text of the bill within 24 hours, because the process in Congress is broken,” Marc Short said. According to Reuters, some Republicans want a $60 billion cut in non-military spending. This could turn out to be a problem, because it was those funds that had ensured Democratic support. Republican leader Mitch McConnell does not want to reconsider the bill either.
“You can’t make an agreement one month and say: ‘OK, we really didn’t mean it,” McConnell said.
“What’s in the Budget Bill nobody’s bothered to read?” Politico‘s Michael Grunwald asked. According to him, the bill not only protects former president Barack Obama’s priorities, it expands them. In short, the omnibus bill does not kill any of the programs or agencies Trump had promised to kill during his campaign.
Grunwald concluded the following.
“It basically extends the fiscal status quo that has prevailed since the start of Obama’s second term — plus a sizable chunk of new deficit spending — even though Republicans now control the legislative and executive branches.”
Marc Short’s initiative might get real fiscal conservatives on his side, but are there any left in the Republican party? Could Congress reopen this bipartisan deal? Reuters‘ David Morgan argues that reopening it could divide the Republican party, which is already struggling against turbulence during the midterms.
The 100-seat Senate, which the Republican party controls by only a 51-49 margin, was not even able to repeal former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, due to opposition from other Republican lawmakers, including Senator Susan Collins. Short’s initiative would face resistance from Collins herself, who confirmed that she would not support the unwinding of the bipartisan omnibus bill.
White House legislative director Marc Short might have support from other fiscal conservatives, and individuals like Rand Paul, but without the support from his own party and his president, that could turn out to be useless.