Two sources who spoke to Fox News are describing the legislation as “a total mess.”
But the head of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said he believes the legislation must pass.
“The twelve bills included in this package fulfill the Congress’ most basic responsibility, to exercise the power of the purse,” he said in a statement. “This measure reflects a year’s worth of work by members of both parties. Together, we have closely scrutinized the president’s budget request, held hundreds of hearings, thousands of meetings, and asked literally tens of thousands of questions to each and every federal department and agency seeking justification for how taxpayer dollars are being spent.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, responded in a statement, saying that after neglecting to pass a budget, “today we learn Senate Democrats now want to sandwich them together, totaling almost 2,000 pages, and jam them through in the waning moments of this lame duck session before anyone can read them. This political end-around reveals just how quickly my colleagues across the aisle have already forgotten the voters’ message in November.”
Though none of the spending bills has passed the Senate, all the individual appropriations bills have been through the full committee process. In an afternoon release, the Appropriations Committee website listed all of the requested earmarks, winnowed into separate categories that go into making up the 12 separate annual spending bills.
In total, thousands of earmark requests are listed. The financial services earmark chart, for instance, lists 220 earmark requests from dozens of lawmakers, mostly in the House, each worth anywhere from $50,000 to $2.4 million. The largest sum was requested by Inouye and his Hawaii colleague Sen. Daniel Akaka for “Bank on USA” demonstration projects” in their state. The projects are designed to give underserved communities greater access to financial institutions.
Elsewhere, the Department of Defense earmark list, mostly requests by senators, is 29 pages long and individual requests more often are worth $2 million to $5 million each. In that list, Inouye’s requests total more than $159 million, including $21 million for a Hawaii Federal Health Care Network. Cornyn’s defense spending earmarks total nearly $16 million.
The list was released after a Republican policy lunch that a source said was devolving into pandemonium.
“All hell is breaking loose,” the source told Fox News, noting that Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina were expected to insist the omnibus bill be read in its entirety by the clerk on the Senate floor before a vote is held. They also were expected to seek debate on all earmarks and any amendments.
If the clerk follows the pace of last year’s reading of the health care bill — 53 pages an hour — it will take almost 40 hours to read the omnibus bill.
….But sources said Inouye was confident he had the votes needed to get the legislation passed and sent to the House.