The Omnibus Bill…The Political Games We Play

By Dr. Sal Martingano, FICPA

An Omnibus Bill is a spending bill that contains more than one government substantive matter, or several minor matters which have been combined into one bill, ostensibly for the sake of convenience.”

Dr. Sal Martingano

Oh…how nice, let’s all sing kumbaya, shall we?

Let’s get a feel for what the Omnibus bill means:

  • The Omnibus bill is a laundry list of spending programs for 2020 within THE FEDERAL BUDGET.
  • Reality is that only 4 members of congress, working with special interest lobbyists wrote the bill.  Congress, in general, had little input in the bill and in many cases didn’t even know what was in it.
  • Omnibus bills can also be used to “veto-proof” items, by including measures that the president is expected to veto. Instead the Omnibus Bill becomes a “take it or leave it” option for the president.
  •  This 2,232 page, $1.3 Trillion ($1,300,000,000,000) spending bill had to be approved by congress and signed by the President.

If you’d like to read the Omnibus Bill: https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/21/politics/omnibus-bill/index.html

The Federal Budget

THERE ARE TWO DIFFERENT PARTS TO THE FEDERAL BUDGET:

  • Mandatory Spending and Discretionary Spending. Mandatory spending is for programs such as Medicare and Social Security. These are regulated by law and are over and above the appropriations process. 
  • Discretionary spending is supposed to be from 12 appropriations bills passed for things such as the Military, grants, agriculture, etc. The Omnibus Bill is for those discretionary portions of the budget.

The Omnibus Bill is essentially one bill that includes all 12 required Discretionary Appropriation Bills. This is to compel the President to accept provisions which he may not approve or else defeat the whole enactment….Can you say legitimizing executive blackmail?

Congress Gets Sneaky With Our Tax Dollars

Discretionary spending is filled with special interest “pork spending” that pleases some but irritates others in Congress.  Instead of responsible compromises, working within specific budgetary requirements, Congress opts to use “continuing resolutions” (we will do what we want) to fund the government in a piecemeal fashion rather than an actual budget. 

So, let’s get this straight….

  • Congress is supposed to represent the good and welfare of the United States citizens but instead Congress bands together to insure their own personal spending agendas are met.  
  • Congress is required to vote on the funding for each of the 12 appropriations bills separately, then submit the Bills to the president for his OK before adding the Bills to his Federal Budget.
  • Eventually, Congress realizes that time is running out. The fiscal year of the US federal government runs from October 1 through September 30. So as they get closer to the end of the fiscal year (and the end of funding for the government), Congress will throw up its hands and say “Put all the unresolved appropriations bills together into one giant appropriations bill, and we’ll vote on that.”

That’s what The Omnibus Bill is.

I dare anyone of us “mere citizens” to try this stunt on our income tax or required business documents and see how that works for us


A Few Interesting Omnibus Bill Items

Trump said, “he swallowed his objections to the bill because of its funding for national defense and the military”. “I will never sign another bill like this again,” he said, calling the 2,200 page plan a “ridiculous situation.” 

This bill is the equivalent of congressional bribery using taxpayer’s money to embarrass Trump into a record spending spree, giving democrats almost everything they couldn’t get during traditional congressional business.

Trump said he was considering vetoing the bill, due to all the unconstitutional democratic spending that was contained in it:

  • Page 375: Congress approved $500 million for a 287 mile Jordanian wall between bordering Iraq & Syria as well as a defense equipment fund of $1.7 billion, yet Democrats removed any additional funding for our southern border wall
  • Page 1.967:  Exempts minor league baseball players from federal labor law. “This is about billionaire team owners using their clout tosuppress minimum wage laws; a victory for Democratic unions

A Few Take-A-Way’s

Congress is presented with the Omnibus Bill to read (2,232 pages of legal jargon), with 48 hours to decipher, approve and send to the President for inclusion in the Federal Budget under “Appropriations”  

  •  The Omnibus Bill is attractive to congressional leadership because when you wrap this many bills into one, you get one HUGE bill instead of debating 12 separate Appropriation bills separately. Our constitution requires congressional oversight not convenience
  •  This tactic allows the minority leadership to quietly slip things into the bill in hopes they can pass it before opponents of the provision in question can find out and mobilize an opposition
  • The Omnibus Bill circumvents executive power from the president.  The president must accept the bill in its entirety, removing his veto power or risk losing the provisions he does want.  Somehow our Founders missed including this “sleight of hand” tactic in the Constitution 

BOTTOM LINE
The Federal Budget is like a highway speed limit that is never enforced.

  • The Omnibus Bill makes life very difficult for those of us who are trying to reduce the “out of control” swamp spending.
  • The $1.3 trillion Omnibus Bill is part of the $4.746 trillion 2020 Federal Budget, which is adding an additional $1.101 trillion to our national debt.
  • This method of budgetary appropriations results in “continuing resolutions” (piece meal budgeting) instead of a firm balanced budget, using the threat of a “government shutdown” to perpetuate the charade. 
  • “Continuing Resolutions (CR’s)” essentially “kick the federal budgetary can” down the road in place of getting firm budgets through the legislature.
  • The federal budget deficit, now $22 trillion, is expected to grow every year, adding to U.S. debt, which will raise interest rates and eventually destroy our country’s economy.

Authors Note:  The Omnibus Bill, unlike official congressional budgets, does give the president much wider discretion for use of the funds he does have control over.  Trump could reallocate “foreign operations” funding and use it to build his much anticipated border wall.

A more in depth understanding about the history and lessons learned from Crises in Iran is contained in my newly-released book:

“The Declaration of Dependence: A Betrayal of the American Dream”BOOK ONE: Media and the Government

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To learn more about Sal Martingano’s upbringing as an Italian from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York, check out his latest book:

“Boys of Brooklyn… A Time When Life Never Sucked”.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE YOUR COPY TODAY!

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