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Wednesday, April 04, 2018

DENNIS PATRICK: OMNIBUS BILL SABOTAGES TRUMP’S AGENDA

President Trump signed a gargantuan $1.3 trillion spending bill, an omnibus bill, on March 23, 2018 averting a government shutdown. The giant spending bill expires September 30 and President Trump said he will not sign another omnibus bill.

Congressman Jim Jordan of the Freedom Caucus commented that congress only had 15 hours to read the 2,232-page bill. (Full disclosure: I did not read the bill, either. I relied on Breitbart, Fox News, and others to delve into the details.)

An omnibus spending bill is a type of legislation in the US Congress that packages several smaller spending bills into one larger single bill. Twelve regular appropriation bills need to be passed each year to fund the federal government and avoid a government shutdown. When congress cannot or will not produce separate bills on schedule it will roll several of the separate appropriation bills into one omnibus spending bill.

Omnibus bills can also be used to “veto-proof” items by including items that the president might otherwise veto if they were submitted as regular appropriation bills. An omnibus bill may be signed by the president for him to gain a greater good while at the same time reluctantly accepting items he dislikes.

In the case of the 2018 Omnibus Bill, it would appear that the establishment Republicans together with the Democrats are attempting to thwart President Trump’s agenda by insuring none of his agenda gets funded.

Virginia Congressman Dave Brat (R) made a very astute observation. The Republican Senate included in the last budget that the Senate was not going to do a budget in the following year. Funding for Trump’s border wall is not included in the omnibus bill. If the Senate will not consider a budget bill, and the omnibus bill runs out September 30, Trump will not see the money for his border wall any time soon.

The administration wanted an increase in the number of ICE agents. This bill rejects that request. Also, the amount of space for detention of apprehended illegal aliens has been reduced to less than what is currently being used.

It blocks financial penalties for sanctuary cities. The bill denies the president the authority to withhold federal grants from sanctuary cities which reject federal immigration laws. This is a continuation of the status quo. Democrats would have sunk the bill if it blocked funding for sanctuary cities. Accordingly, Trump will make sanctuary cities a midterm election theme.

The omnibus bill specifically blocks any funding for any wall or anything that resembles the prototype barriers Trump has viewed. This is astounding considering the bill does provide funding to the Secretary of Defense “to enhance the border security of nations adjacent to conflict areas including Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Tunisia…” But, it does nothing to enhance the border security of the United States.

Lesser objectives of Trump’s agenda were also thwarted. Regarding gun laws, the omnibus bill turns a blind eye to national concealed carry reciprocity introduced in the Senate over a year ago.

Trump wanted to eliminate several smaller federal agencies regarded as a waste of taxpayer dollars. Instead, the African Development Foundation will get $30 million. The Corporation for National Community Service which runs AmeriCorps, Vista and other programs will get $1 billion, an increase of $34 million. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a program Republicans wanted to cut for years, will be fully funded at $445 million. That means PBS, the equivalent of a federal CNN, will be funded. The Delta Regional Authority, a job creation program in Mississippi and Alabama, will get a $10 million increase over the previous funding period rather than get shut down. The list goes on. There is money to prevent “elderly falls,” promote breast feeding, and fight “excessive alcohol use.”

To top it off, the bill increases the Senate budget to $919.9 million, up $48.8 million from FY2017. The House increased its budget to $1.2 billion, $10.9 million above 2017 levels. Again, the list goes on.

In truth, the 2018 Omnibus Bill is the personification of the Washington establishment resistance (Republican, Democrat, bureaucracy, and special interests) to President Trump. They are daring the president to take them on. Trump reluctantly signed the $1.3 trillion bill in order to reverse years of sequestered defense funding that left our armed forces in shambles. Pre-WWII force levels left the US military inadequately prepared to protect America in a very dangerous world.

This spending bill makes it almost impossible for President Trump to implement his agenda, particularly the campaign promises that got him elected, i.e., dealing with illegal immigration and border security. This bill was the purposeful sabotage of the Trump agenda designed to separate Trump from his base.

When signing the bill President Trump said he will not sign another omnibus bill. When this bill expires on September 30, just prior to the midterm elections, are we to expect a government shutdown? Why not? Let’s rumble!

 

Dennis M. Patrick can be contacted at (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

 

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