Anybody want to wager that the fix was in to pass the $410 billion omnibus bill? Don't bet against it; it's a sucker bet.
As has already been reported, Speaker "San Fran Nan" Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Las Vegas), and other Senate Democrats got into a shouting match the other night over how to handle the bill and the interference being brought to bear by Senate Republicans. Here's what Reid said he would do:
He has promised Republicans about a dozen amendments, but his challenge is to defeat each so the omnibus measure can go straight onto the White House.
Sure enough, there were 22 total votes on amendments to this bill (here, from vote 74 through and including vote 95); 20 were killed outright, and 2 were tabled. One of those killed amendments was the one that would keep poor, inner-city D.C. kids in private schools via $7500 vouchers (four Republicans voted against it, Crapo of Idaho, Murkowski of Alaska, Specter of Pennsylvania and Snowe of Maine; Democrats Byrd of West Virginia and Warner of Virginia, along with Connecticut Independent Lieberman, voted for it with the other Republicans). Every one of those amendments failed or was tabled on a primarily party-line vote. Reid had made sure that the bill passed by the Senate was going to be the same as the one passed in the House, so that President Obama wouldn't have to wait any longer to sign it.
And Obama will sign it, despite the fact that the bill is replete with about 9000 earmarks in it, completely antithetical to what Obama said last week in regards to what he would do to fix how government works:
Obama said he was ordering a reform of the way the government did business, a move he said would save taxpayers $40 billion a year and help cut the budget deficit, which he has forecast will hit $1.75 trillion for the 2009 fiscal year.
"We will stop outsourcing services that should be performed by the government and open up the contracting process to small business. We will end unnecessary no-bid and cost-plus contracts," he said.
What's contained in the earmarks in the omnibus bill he will sign today? Plenty of unnecessary no-bid contracts I'm sure.
Obama implies he isn't responsible for what's in it because, as reported in the Washington Post piece I linked to earlier:
But the White House has kept the bill at arm's length, calling it last year's business.
So the Obama administration is again trying to blame this on President Bush (without saying it). Yet, even the Post knows the real reason why this bill wasn't passed last year:
It was supposed to have been completed last fall, but Democrats opted against election-year battles with Republicans and former President George W. Bush.
Here's the laugh line:
Obama is also set to announce steps aimed at curbing lawmakers' so-called earmarks.
He'll do something about those earmarks, just not now.
Or maybe he will:
The left used to love beating up on President Bush for his use of 'signing statements'. Well yesterday President Present basically said he'd do the same thing only smarter and less often or something.
Today however the Obama Administration tries something the Bush regime never thought of...promising to ignore provisions of a bill that hasn't passed yet in order to get votes for it.
Got it? Bush laying out his interpretation of a law bad, Obama explicitly promising to ignore a new law...good. I'm glad I could help clear that up for you.
But it gets better than that:
The problem is Harry Reid can't get 60 votes because he's lost 2 Democrats (Menendez of NJ and Nelso[n] of FL) over provisions in the bill that would loosen sanctions on Cuba.
So what does Obama promise to do to get the votes? He has his super smart Treasury Secretary promise to ignore the changes the new law would make in Cuba policy.
Here's what Obama spokesmouth Robert Gibbs had to say (from within the link in the previous quote):
"It's like a presidential signing statement except it's not the president and it's not a signing statement," said Robert Gibbs, when asked about the letter from Tim Geithner by Jake Tapper. He argued that every law must be interpreted, and deferred questions about Tim Geit[h]ner's letter to the Treasury Department.
But wait a minute; I thought we had a President that was a scholar of the Constitution, that this was the era of Hope and Change and good government, that this President was going to have his people believe in the rule of law, and yadda, yadda, yadda. We now have a President who will still issue signing statements like previous Presidents have done, including the last one, except he will do it "smarter". And if he doesn't do it, then one of his (tax-evading) flunkies will do it for him, and everything will be alright, despite the fact that nothing about Presidential appointees being allowed to do what Geithner did is anywhere in the Constitution. Imagine that.
Sure enough, both Menendez and Nelson voted for cloture with 60 others (including eight Republicans: Alexander, Bond, Cochran, Murkowski, Shelby, Snowe, Specter, Wicker; interestingly, Bond's Democratic Missouri colleague, McCaskill, voted against cloture) prior to passing the bill by voice vote. Along with McCaskill, Democrats Bayh and Feingold also voted against cloture. The question I have is, had three of the eight Republicans voted against cloture, would the three Democrats who did have voted for cloture, just to get this bill done?
Another question I have is will Congress actually do something to rein in Obama's obvious skirting of the Constitution? Again, it would be a sucker bet to think they will anytime soon.