Packed With Pork: Senate Advances $1.7 Trillion 4,155-Page Bill That No One Read

The Senate on Tuesday morning put forward a massive spending package to shell out some $1.7 trillion in the next fiscal year.

The bill totaled 4,155 pages. By Tuesday evening, the Senate advanced the legislation by a 70-25 vote.

So who read it? Well, no one. Certainly not any of the senators. This site says the average reader can get through 40 pages an hour, so it’d take 103 hours — 4.3 days if you read for 24 hours a day — to get through the whole bill.

But lawmakers wouldn’t have read it, anyway. It’s congressional staffers who get the order to skim the bill as fast as they can and then inform their bosses what’s in it.

The last week before the winter holiday break is really the one week lawmakers do the job they were elected to do: run the government. Only when they’re faced with having to work over Christmas do they buckle down.

The legislation is known as an “omnibus” bill. Not that long ago, Congress used to consider appropriations bills for a dozen various government agencies separately, debating them for days or weeks before passing each solo. Now, they’re all jammed together into one unreadable bill.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) rightly says the process “stinks.”

“I brought along the 1.7 trillion, 4,000+ page Pelosi-Schumer omnibus spending bill that’s being fast-tracked through the Senate,” Paul wrote on Twitter. “This process stinks. It’s an abomination. It’s a no good rotten way to run government. We’re standing up and saying NO.”

I brought along the 1.7 trillion, 4,000+ page Pelosi-Schumer omnibus spending bill that’s being fast-tracked through the Senate. This process stinks. It’s an abomination. It’s a no good rotten way to run government. We’re standing up and saying NO. pic.twitter.com/Wom6xKEeQh

— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December 20, 2022

The bill is also packed with pork — special interest projects pushed by various lawmakers.

The Heritage Foundation said the bill includes:

$1 million for Zora’s House in Ohio, a “coworking and community space” for “women and gender-expansive people of color.”
$3 million for the American LGBTQ+ Museum in New York City.
$3.6 million for a Michelle Obama Trail in Georgia.

💸 $1 million for Zora’s House in Ohio, a “coworking and community space” for “women and gender-expansive people of color.”
💸 $3 million for the American LGBTQ+ Museum in New York City.
💸 $3.6 million for a Michelle Obama Trail in Georgia.

— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) December 20, 2022

The bill also honors departing speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) by renaming a federal building in San Francisco the “Speaker Nancy Pelosi Federal Building.” And the legislation names a $2 million foreign service grant program the “Nancy Pelosi Fellowship Program.”

Everything gets stuffed into a bill like this. According to Just The News, it includes “a waiver allowing Boeing to miss its Dec. 27 legal deadline for fixing defective 737 Max airliners.” The outlet also noted new regulations on cosmetics, horse racing, and 401k reforms such as “delaying mandatory withdrawals to age 75.”

The legislation includes $772.5 billion for non-defense discretionary spending and $858 billion in defense funding, according to a bill summary from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Not coincidentally, the bill also names some stuff after the 82-year-old senator, who is retiring.

The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act’s “Access to Local Foods: Farm to School Program” will become the “Access to Local Foods: Patrick Leahy Farm to School Program.” The “Lake Champlain Basin Program” will become the “Patrick Leahy Lake Champlain Basin Program.” And the bill provides $30 million for the “Patrick Leahy Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program.”

In an omnibus bill, everybody gets their beak wet. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) requested at least 19 earmarks totaling more than $60 million in the $1.7 trillion bill. That includes $2 million for the “rehabilitation of Bering Sea Women’s Shelter for Bering Sea Women’s Group,” Breitbart News reported.

In total, there are more than 3,200 special project earmarks from lawmakers, with a total cost topping $5 billion.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) took to Twitter to say that not every senator will help congressional leadership “ram” the omnibus through the Senate.

“This bill has been written in large measure by two retiring senators, one Republican and one Democrat. Why should we move heaven and earth trying to force their priorities on the very people they keep in the dark—all according to two senators’ contrived, manipulative timeline?”

A good question, Mike. But it didn’t matter. In the end, 21 Republicans voted to pass the bill.

Same as it ever was.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.

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