There are so many appalling features of the recent omnibus legislation that provides taxpayer funding for the federal government for fiscal year 2023 that it is difficult to identify the most egregious one.
The provision of $45 billion more to Ukraine — a nation with whom we have no alliance, no material historical relationships and which possesses no unique advantages to American involvement – is probably among the more inexplicable. Somehow, American taxpayers have managed to become the financiers of a war in which they have only the most tangential of interests and that likely has no end.
The best part? Sen. Mitch McConnell managed to lump the cash drop to Ukraine in with combatting China as important priorities to Republicans.
Or maybe it was the increase in defense spending (from $782 billion last year to $858 billion this year), despite the fact that the Department of Defense just announced last month that it failed its own audit (again) and could not account for as much as 61% of its assets. More importantly, at some point, the Republicans are going to need to pull the band-aid off and acknowledge that after 60 years of defeats, it might be time to rethink how we have arranged our military.
Or maybe it was the increase in non-defense discretionary funding. Despite the propaganda from the Republicans, the bill includes a 9.3% annual increase in non-defense spending. That’s the highest ever, and it includes more cash for places like the FBI and the Department of Education that desperately need reform (and won’t get it this year).
Or maybe it is the billions diverted through earmarks to climate change, sexual identity projects and renaming buildings. Even Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, who as recently as last week said that monuments are for pigeons and dogs, managed to get the FBI facility at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama named after himself.
Or perhaps it is the sheer size of the catastrophe. If you include the waiver of what were supposed to be automatic cuts (known as the PAYGO waiver) the price tag looks a lot more like $1.9 trillion.
For purposes of comparison, last year the federal spending on defense and discretionary non-defense was about $1.5 trillion. The bill itself runs 4,155 pages, and there are another 2,000 or so pages in the accompanying report.
It goes without saying that no one — and no congressional staff — could possibly read that much and be able to fully comprehend and analyze everything in it. That is, of course, a design element and not a defect of the process.
Which leads us directly to the most appalling and egregious feature of the omnibus: it is fundamentally and intentionally anti-democratic.
The entire process — the endless wasting of time and achieving nothing during the year, the writing of legislation entirely by staff and entirely out of view of almost all members of Congress, the consequent consolidation of power in the hands of chairmen and “leaders,” the surprise inclusion of legislative language and spending at the last minute, the sudden rush to the exits at the end of the year — is all designed to vitiate and debase the votes of members of Congress, and, by extension, the votes of citizens.
Michael McKenna is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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