Critics are howling at spending perks and rules littered throughout the $1.7 trillion “omnibus” bill meant to fund the federal government for another fiscal year.
The legislation was unveiled in the Senate early Tuesday and boasts $858 billion in defense funding as well as $772.5 billion for non-defense “discretionary programs,” according to a summary. Time is of the essence as funding expires Friday at midnight, leaving some lawmakers to grumble while poring over the legislation that is more than 4,000 pages long.
Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) shared a Twitter thread on what he dubbed “some of the most egregious provisions in the bill.” First on his list was a section outlining requirements of more than $1.5 million geared toward “border management requirements” for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, including a ban on using those funds “to acquire, maintain, or extend border security technology and capabilities, except for technology and capabilities to improve Border Patrol processing.”
It expressly prohibits CBP funding from being used to improve border security. pic.twitter.com/g2F4o1zl2D
— Rep. Dan Bishop (@RepDanBishop) December 20, 2022
At a time when Republicans condemn the Biden administration for not doing more to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, Bishop pointed out that the bill “allocates $410 million towards border security for Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Oman.”
Detecting something “fishy,” Bishop noted that the word “salmon” appears 48 times in the bill, which included a $65 million commitment to Pacific coastal salmon recovery. He also found $3 million for bee-friendly highways.
$65 million for salmon?
Seems fishy. pic.twitter.com/JSdjpuffGq
— Rep. Dan Bishop (@RepDanBishop) December 20, 2022
The conservative Heritage Foundation released a list of its own focused on “WOKE PRIORITIES IN THE OMNIBUS,” including several LGBTQ projects and “anti-racism” initiatives.
Among the list of earmarks, the group said, were $1.2 million for “LGBTQIA+ Pride Centers,” $477,000 for the Equity Institute in Rhode Island “to indoctrinate teachers with ‘antiracism virtual labs,'” and $3 million for the American LGBTQ+ Museum.
💸 $1.2 million for “LGBTQIA+ Pride Centers”
💸 $1.2 million for "services for DACA recipients” (aka helping illegal aliens with taxpayer funds) at San Diego Community College.
💸 $477k for the Equity Institute in RI to indoctrinate teachers with “antiracism virtual labs.”
— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) December 20, 2022
Conservative members of Congress are particularly rankled by some of the items that have to do with parks and trails.
In addition to nearly $45 billion more aid to Ukraine and NATO allies, the omnibus seeks to fund the creation of a “Ukrainian Independence Park.” Another section would designate a federal building in San Francisco as the “Speaker Nancy Pelosi Federal Building.” There is also a $3.6 million Transportation Department allotment for a “Michelle Obama Trail” in Georgia.
Perks such as these had Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) saying she would vote against the “radical Biden omnibus” and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) assailing the “reckless” bill and asking followers, “Are you ok with all of this?”
I will vote against the radical Biden omnibus, which includes "woke" nonsense like a $3.6 million "Michelle Obama Trail" in Georgia. Why are Senate Republicans voting for this? https://t.co/iHiyU3nNIQ
— Rep. Mary Miller (@RepMaryMiller) December 20, 2022
The Democrats' reckless omnibus bill spends YOUR money on a "Michelle Obama Trail," a "Ukraine Independence Park" in DC, and a "Speaker Pelosi Federal Building" in San Francisco.
Are you ok with all of this?
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) December 20, 2022
Scott Parkinson, vice president for government affairs at the Club for Growth, posted a list of “fun” earmarks, breaking down many of the allotments by states and districts for lawmakers.
For instance, he singled out Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and the other members of “The Squad,” surmising these high-profile leftists will “disregard” an increase in defense spending because they each got “MILLIONS” in earmarks.
— Scott T. Parkinson (@ScottTParkinson) December 20, 2022
Republican lawmakers were also subject to scrutiny, particularly those who are retiring.
Outgoing Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) got $511 million worth of earmarks in the omnibus, and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the vice chairman of the Committee on Appropriations who had a major role in drafting the legislation, scored earmarks worth more than $656 million, according to Breitbart News. Shelby also gets an FBI training center renamed after him.
“In return for giving away nine months of GOP leverage with the disastrous Omnibus, Richard Shelby gets an FBI building named after him. Nobody is a cheaper date than a Senate Republican,” tweeted Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk.
In return for giving away nine months of GOP leverage with the disastrous Omnibus, Richard Shelby gets an FBI building named after him. Nobody is a cheaper date than a Senate Republican.
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) December 20, 2022
In addition, the package would give $2.63 billion for U.S. attorneys, including funding “to further support prosecutions related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol and domestic terrorism cases,” according to a fact sheet reported by CNN.
Also tacked on to the omnibus are reforms to the Electoral Count Act, which former President Donald Trump sought to use in disputing the results of the 2020 election. Retiring Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) rebuked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for not getting those changes passed separately.
“Two things are true at once: ECA reform is important, trust-building work to protect the peaceful transfer of power; and Omnibus spending bills are an embarrassing, trust-draining way to govern,” Sasse told National Review. “Chuck Schumer should have brought ECA reform to the Senate floor sooner, but he was less interested in its substance than in using it as a sweetener in this crap sandwich.”