That’s the way one source described to Fox News the mood at the Senate Republican policy lunch held as the omnibus spending bill was released yesterday.
Leaden with 6,600 individual earmarks totaling $8 billion, each individual piece of the omnibus has gone through the full committee process — where Republican members could not only see for themselves the accumulation of pork, but have their chance to feed at the trough — and yet the finished product is being called “a mess.”
Unsurprisingly, Sens. Coburn of Oklahoma and DeMint of South Carolina are leading the charge, threatening to repeat the tactics of last year’s health-care fight and have the clerk read the entirety of the nearly 2,000 page bill aloud on the Senate floor.
But the conservative stalwarts are being joined by unlikely allies, both within their caucus and across the aisle.
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who has millions in earmark requests in the bill, has nevertheless said he is “actively working to defeat” it. Senator Cornyn, who requested $16 million in defense earmarks alone, called the introduction of the bill late in the lame-duck a “political end-around” that “reveals just how quickly [Democrats] have already forgotten the voters’ message in November.”
And Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri is joining Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama in saying she will reject the bill if it doesn’t contain a three-year discretionary spending cap.
Still, a small contingent of Republicans — including outgoing Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, and possibly Kit Bond of Missouri — may be enough to push the omnibus past 60 votes and send it back to the House (where, incidentally, Speaker-designate Boehner has vowed he will “kill it.”)
What are the stakes? The current continuing resolution, which keeps the lights on at last year’s spending levels, is set to expire on Saturday. If omnibus, or another CR, is not passed and signed into law by then, the government shuts down.
Tellingly, the introduction of the bill coincides with a new Gallup poll showing congressional approval at a record low of 13 percent.
It should be an interesting few days.