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Bad News on the Omnibus



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The Senate is getting closer to reach an shameful agreement on the omnibus bill. Two democrats — Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) — who were opposed to the measure until now informed Reid of their support.

In addition, yesterday, the Senate rejected four Republican bids to change the omnibus bill. According to Congressional Quarterly:

A 32-63 vote went against an amendment from John McCain, R-Ariz., to bar any funds in the bill from being used to pay for $7.7 billion in earmarks contained in a report accompanying the bill. Two proposals from Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., were defeated. An amendment to require a report on countersmuggling efforts in Gaza fell 34-61, and a bid to require that the State Department certify that funds made available for reconstruction efforts in Gaza would not be diverted to Hamas or entities controlled by Hamas was rejected 39-56. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., saw his proposal to prevent changes in certain funding formulas for anti-AIDS programs rejected 42-53. Among the amendments slated for Tuesday votes were a John Ensign, R-Nev., proposal to protect funds for the District of Columbia school voucher program after the 2009-10 school year, and a John Cornyn, R-Texas, amendment to prohibit state attorneys general who hire outside legal experts and witnesses in civil actions from paying them through a contingency fee agreement where they would receive a share of any award or settlement.

Today brings more fights for the Republicans as the Senate prepares to vote on more amendments including David Vitter’s (R., La.) amendment forcing lawmakers to affirmatively vote themselves an annual pay increase, repealing a provision of current law that automatically raises congressional pay each year. Obviously, voting against the measure would make these senators look bad — assuming that they care about what the public thinks of them — and approving the measure would send the bill back to the House.
 
We can only hope at this point. Stay put.

Veronique de Rugy is an economist at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.



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