The Worst Christmas Tradition in DC

( – It has been over 25 years since Congress fulfilled its obligation to complete appropriations bills by September 30. Instead, Congress delayed making any spending decisions until the final week before Christmas, when it did so in a hasty manner with little to no public discussion or amendments and crammed everything into one monstrosity of a bill.

If all this frantic last-minute legislation focused solely on spending, it wouldn’t be so bad. However, Washington’s expensive lobbyists have discovered that the mad dash at the end of every year offers the ideal chance to include gifts for their wealthiest clients. A 4,155-page bill that spends $1.7 trillion in the few days between publication and voting will not be read by anyone. As a result, the annual spending omnibus jingles with unnecessary legislation that failed to pass in the preceding weeks and months.

The Electoral Count Act clarifies language tripping up congressional counting of the electoral votes for president is a much-needed reform. It should have been approved by the Senate earlier this year. There was no justification for waiting until now.

Sen. Susan Collins’s (R-ME) provision that protects lobstermen from an onerous regulation by the National Marine Fisheries Service that would have destroyed the industry, as well as Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) ban on the Chinese spyware app TikTok from all government mobile devices, are both welcome additions to the omnibus.

A bipartisan retirement plan was introduced, raising the age at which people must begin taking minimum distributions from their tax-free savings from 72 to 75.

The omnibus bill also increases domestic spending by 9.3% and includes significant increases for food stamps, heating assistance, and the discredited Head Start program.

Then there are the immigration clauses, which give $800 million to charitable organizations to aid President Joe Biden in hastening the entry of illegal immigrants into the country. The bill also reduces spending on deporting illegal immigrants when inflation is considered. Under Biden, deportations have already reached record lows this year.

Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the minority party in the House and a Republican from California, objected rightfully to the exclusion of Republican majority voters from discussions about this final spending binge. He had a point when he said that a quick-term continuing resolution would have been better.

If McCarthy wins the election next month, one of his top priorities as speaker should be to demonstrate to his Republican and Democratic Senate colleagues that it is possible to pass spending bills on time. Voters favor efficient governance.

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