STILL ON TRACK FOR AN OMNIBUS SHOWDOWN…. Following up on yesterday’s item, an omnibus spending bill that would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year is still pending in the Senate, and will run into fierce Republican opposition when it’s brought to the floor, probably on Saturday. The main GOP complaint: the laundry list of earmarks, many of which they personally put in the bill.
This morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reiterated his demand that the Senate approve an extension of existing funding levels to keep the government’s lights on through Feb. 18. At that point, McConnell said, the new, more right-wing Congress can decide how best to proceed. If Democrats refuse, Republicans may very well shut down the government.
The Democratic leadership doesn’t seem receptive to McConnell’s demands, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this afternoon that he’ll proceed as planned with the omnibus.
The Nevada Democrat also lashed out at GOP critics of the bill’s earmarks, arguing their opposition is merely political posturing and hypocritical because many of them have earmarks in the legislation.
“You can’t have it both ways. If you go to H in the dictionary and see hypocrites, under that would be people who ask for earmarks but vote against them,” he said.
Despite conservative threats to force a reading of the bill — a tactic that would delay passage until after the midnight Saturday deadline to avoid a government shutdown — Reid told reporters he will try to file cloture on the omnibus Thursday afternoon or evening.
“We’ll take care of this. … We’re going to proceed as we are. I hope to sometime in the next 24 hours to file cloture” on the omnibus, Reid said.
Of course, soon after, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) will very likely launch his tantrum, forcing clerks to read the entirety of the1,924-page bill, out loud, paralyzing the chamber for at least 50 hours.
In the meantime, the fact that Republicans, furious with funding for pet projects, are outraged by a bill stuffed with their own pet projects, continues to generate attention. I found this video, released this afternoon by Senate Democrats, to be pretty compelling: