As expected, the $1.1 trillion continuing resolution/omnibus spending bill passed the Senate yesterday on a 56-40 vote. The vote was bipartisan–one might say, weirdly bipartisan. The measure’s opponents included the far-left Tom Harkin and Al Franken, and the solidly conservative Mike Lee and Jeff Sessions. Notably, all senators who are seen as potential 2016 presidential candidates voted No: Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren.
In my view, the worst failing of the cromnibus is not that it failed to de-fund President Obama’s unconstitutional executive amnesty, but that it perpetuated the deeply corrupt and undemocratic practice of appropriating trillions of dollars in federal spending on the basis of 1,000 page-plus bills that are negotiated in secret, presented as a fait accompli, voted on without being read or understood, and subjected to no meaningful amendment process or debate.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Jeff Sessions expressed the outrage that I feel better than I could:
I will not be voting for the bill…. They cobble the entire funding of the United States together in one omnibus bill, bring it up at the last minute and say, if you don’t agree to vote it out without getting any amendments, why, we’ll accuse you of shutting the government down. We’ll accuse you of shutting the government down. It’s all your fault. And for some reason, our friends in the media seem to think that’s true. And if anybody has the gumption to stand up to this abuse of process, they’re shutting the government down. What planet are we on here?
I want to offer an amendment to this bill. It would simply say that congress is going to fund the entire discretionary account in this country, but we’re not going to provide money to allow the president of the united states to execute an unlawful, illegal amnesty.
We absolutely have a duty not to fund — a responsibility not to fund programs that violate law, violate the constitution, allow the president to eviscerate and fail to enforce huge chunks of our immigration law and, at the same time, allow him to create an entirely new scheme of immigration law… The law says, if you’re here unlawfully, you can’t work, and the law says, if you’re a businessperson, you can’t hire somebody who’s here unlawfully. [President Obama says] I’m not going to enforce that either. And in fact I’m going to go even further. I’m going to get an office in Crystal City, I’m going to bring in 1,000 people and we’re going to give the people that are here unlawfully, as defined by the American people through their Congress, I’m going to give them a certificate, an ID, a photo ID That says you are lawfully here, and I’m going to say, despite the fact that you’re not supposed to work here, if you’re here unlawfully, I’m going to give you the right to work. And, by the way, you’re not entitled to Social Security and Medicare. I’m going to give you that, too. And, by the way, when you file your tax return using that social security number, you can get a tax credit and a child tax credit.
I think Congress needs to listen to the American people. What’s wrong with what they’re telling us, colleagues? What’s wrong with them saying, we want a lawful system of immigration? We don’t care what big business wants. We don’t care what special activist groups want. We want a lawful system of immigration that’s fairly applied, that we can be proud of and that serves our interest, that helps my child, my husband, me have a job. We’d like to see wages rise and we expect you in congress to look after us – not people that violate our laws.
Sessions’s observation that the press leads the cheers for our dysfunctional (and, to the extent that it eschews budgets, illegal) appropriations system is one that should be made more often.