12.16.2010 0

The Establishment Strikes Back, Part II

The Establishment Strikes Back

By Robert Romano

At least four Senate Republican are considering voting for the $1.27 trillion omnibus spending bill now under consideration: Senators Kit Bond, George Voinovich, Susan Collins, and Bob Bennett, reports The Hill.

“The support of Senators Bond, Voinovich, Collins and Bennett would be enough to push this $1.27 trillion omnibus bill across the finish line, and would come in spite of a Senate Republican conference moratorium against earmarks,” noted Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson.

Wilson said that if the catch-all spending bill, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, passes with Republican support, “the American people will rightly question Republicans’ credibility on fiscal matters.” The bill contains over 6,600 outrageous earmarks according to Taxpayers for Common Sense and fully funds ObamaCare for a year.

“Passing the omnibus bill would be a repudiation by Washington of the outcome of the November elections,” Wilson added. He’s right. The American people just got through an historic election season that handed Republicans control of the House and increased their numbers in the Senate, largely because of Washington’s out-of-control spending.

Unfortunately, even partial Republican support for the trillion-dollar omnibus bill, should it pass, tells the American people that the decisive message they sent via the November elections has still gone unheeded. But, perhaps the omnibus bill is being voted on in spite of the American people’s express will against the spending.

After all, three of the four Republicans who may be voting for the bill, Bond, Voinovich, and Bennett are not returning in 2011. Senator Bennett of Utah, who was ousted in the Republican primary this year by Senator-elect Mike Lee, said of the vote, “It will be tough for some, but not for me.”

Yeah, because the voters can no longer hold him accountable. But, Americans for Limited Government’s Wilson is holding out hope that Mr. Bennett will reconsider his position. “Senator Bennett has a chance to show he has changed his ways and that he has listened to his constituents. That he understands why he lost his primary,” he said.

Wilson said that if Republicans vote for the bill and it passes, it would damage the GOP brand: “If Republicans cannot keep their promise to stop spending now, the American people will rightly question their credibility on fiscal matters. The American people have every right to be outraged, but they will pillory any Republican that votes for this. Republicans should stand with the American people against this waste.”

For the most part, they are. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is standing firm and is attempting to rally an overwhelming majority of his caucus together to filibuster the measure. “For two years, Republicans have railed against the Democrats for rushing legislation through Congress. But this is, without doubt, one of the worst abuses of the process yet,” McConnell said in a floor speech.

McConnell said he is listening the American people: “The voters made an unambiguous statement last month: they don’t like the wasteful spending, they don’t want the Democrat health care bill, and they don’t want lawmakers rushing staggeringly complex, staggeringly expensive bills through Congress without any time for people to study what’s buried in the details.”

He added, “This bill is a legislative slap in the face to all those voters who rejected these things.”

Maybe that’s the point. Perhaps the Washington establishment is getting even with the American people for throwing them out on their ears. Unfortunately, it would only take two Republican defections for Senate Democrats to invoke cloture, assuming they could rally their caucus unanimously.

However, there remains hope. In 2012, Democrats have 23 seats in the Senate at stake. Several of them, including Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Jon Tester of Montana, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, may not want a vote for a trillion-dollar omnibus bill on their record.

So, even with as many as four Republicans, Harry Reid may lack the votes to move forward with the omnibus. He has vowed, however, to keep Congress until after the New Year unless he gets what he wants: “Congress ends on January 4th. So we’re going to continue working on this stuff until we get it done.”

That is just sheer arrogance. Senate Republicans have an opportunity to push it back, with the help of some Senate Democrats who want to listen to the American people, too.

But Senators really do need to stop this monstrosity if they want to prove they have changed the way Washington does business. Merely voting “no” in protest will not be sufficient.

Wilson concluded, “It is time for Senate Republicans to stand for something. But nobody will believe the GOP stands for anything, if they cannot, in fact, stop anything.”

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau.

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