The Senate will soon consider legislation with an impressive-sounding name — Advancing America's Priorities Act. But the bill being pushed by Democratic leaders includes lots of lawmakers' pet priorities, such as a commission on the "Star-Spangled Banner" and the War of 1812, $1.5 billion for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and $5 million for a museum in Poland.
The legislation lumps nearly 40 separate bills into one and authorizes numerous "earmarks," the targeted spending for projects that Democrats often ridiculed as pork-barrel when they swept into power 18 months ago.
Critics are even more concerned about the way all this spending might be approved. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, is threatening to use a parliamentary tactic known as "filling the tree," which would preclude amendments and make it difficult for lawmakers and the White House to block projects they consider wasteful.
The bill is an example of government's inclination "to throw money and create a credit card and charge it to our kids," said Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, who is leading efforts to thwart a vote on the legislation.
Reid spokesman Jim Manley said Democrats need to consider such a tactic to counter Mr. Coburn's "unprecedented obstructionism" in placing a hold on many of the individual bills so they could not be rushed through the Senate.
This SHOULD be obstructed. $11 billion in pork needs to be stopped and destroyed and the GOP needs to go around the country and let the rest of the people know what a piss poor job Reid's doing for this country.
The two sides are headed for a legislative showdown as early as Saturday. As leaders in both parties plotted strategy, Mr. Coburn published a 72-page summary of all the spending he either opposes or wants to offset by cuts elsewhere.
The laundry list of spending totals more than $11 billion.
Mr. Coburn said his motive has been to force transparency in the way Congress spends money and allow for lawmakers to have vigorous debate on the merits of such spending.
One of the biggest items in the legislation is $1.5 billion for Washington's Metrorail system, which the conservative Heritage Foundation calls the "biggest earmark in history." The think tank notes that the project is seven times more expensive than the so-called "bridge to nowhere" that became a symbol of excessive spending in the last Republican-led Congress.
Other earmarks listed in the bill include $24 million for the United Nations and $5 million for a museum in Poland. The legislation also reauthorizes a Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that spent $51 million last year on 95 earmarks.
The names of many of the bills that were merged into the omnibus legislation have a "mom and the American flag" sentiment to them. In fact, the title of one of the bills is Mothers Act, and another is called the "Star-Spangled Banner" and War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission Act. That may make it harder for some Republicans to vote against it.
"Senator Reid has packed this bill with things Republicans will have difficulty opposing," Sen. Jim DeMint, a Republican ally of Mr. Coburn from South Carolina, said Wednesday. Mr. Manley agreed, saying the bills had "broad bipartisan support" and at least one Republican co-sponsor.
The Republican's name isn't Ted Stevens is it? Not to mention that 83 senators supported the bridge to nowhere including Stabenow and Levin. They;ll probably vote for this as well.
If we want to avoid another asskicking in the 08 Congressional elections, we need to take this opening, tell the beltway and pork types to perform unatural acts on themselves, and stop this damn thing. Period. Fillibuster it. Veto it (Bush? yeah right....). PR campaign to back it up. To the GOP house and senate staffers and reps reading this, Your job is on the line here. You are looking at losing at least 5, maybe 9-10 senate seats if you do not do something fast. The house doesn't look much better. Get the base back. Get the libertarian leanings back in the party. Get the fiscal conservatives and social liberals to look again at the GOP. This is a good start right here. Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint are stepping up to the plate as they always do, but they need a LOT of help.
McCain's been good on pork. Here's a good opening for him to be a hero among conservatives with an issue he's been consistent. Here's the opening. Take it.