It apparently was not enough that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., suffered a humiliating defeat when he failed to gain passage last week of that horrendous $1.2 trillion omnibus spending bill that contained more than 6,600 earmarks. Reid thought he had enough votes from Democrats and a handful of Republicans who would be unable to resist the lure of those earmarks.
With November’s election results still fresh, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., forcefully reminded his wavering GOP colleagues that voters said “no” to more earmarks in the plainest possible terms. Considering the historic gains voters awarded to Republican candidates from top to bottom of the ballots across the country, pundit P.J. O’Rourke was right on target in describing the results as a “restraining order” against the Democratic majority of the 111th Congress.
So what does Reid do? He teams up for another with Sen. Barbara Boxer — the California Democrat who heads the Senate Public Works and Environment Committee — and other senators who heed their orders from Big Green. This 1,000-plus-page outrage was secretly assembled during the summer and held for just such a lame-duck, end-of-Congress banzai charge. It is stuffed to the gunwales with pet projects of senators from both parties seeking new federal parks and wilderness areas, expanded regulatory authority for Environmental Protection Agency bureaucrats, new obstacles to developing America’s energy resources and a host of other impediments to economic growth — just when the national economy seems poised to begin a genuine recovery.
As House Natural Resources Committee Chairman-elect Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said, “Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer and Senate Democrats are ignoring the stark message sent by voters in November that they want an end to backroom deals that produce giant bills loaded with new spending and job-killing policies. The American people loudly declared that this isn’t how they want business conducted by Congress. This Reid-Boxer omnibus needs to be blocked, shelved or defeated. There will be plenty of time in the next Congress to individually consider the measures piled into this omnibus. They should not be jammed through in the last days of a lame-duck session.”
Hastings’ last sentence is particularly true of the 111th Congress, which has achieved the dubious distinction of being the least popular since the Gallup Poll began surveying the American public during the Truman era. Reid should drop this omnibus, finish work on a simple continuing resolution for funding, and then gavel this debacle on the Hill to a close.