A Not So Merry Present from Congress | Citizens Against Government Waste

A Not So Merry Present from Congress

The WasteWatcher

After living with the worst inflation in 40 years, much of which was caused by the trillions of dollars in spending that President Biden and Congress agreed to spend over the past year, taxpayers were hoping for a happy end to the year.  But the big spenders in Washington do not know when to stop and delivered a giant lump of coal in time for Christmas by passing a 4,155 page omnibus spending package to fund the government, along with dozens of unrelated provisions, right before adjourning sine die for the year.

In an effort to cram as much as they could into a final legislative package before the Republicans take over the House of Representatives on January 3, 2023, Democrats in the House and Senate (with 18 Republican senators voting in favor) delivered one final blow to taxpayers by passing a government funding bill, amounting to $1.7 trillion that didn’t just fund the government for fiscal year (FY) 2023, but also included almost anything else they could think of, including the kitchen sink and thousands of earmarks that no one had a chance to review before the bills passed.

According to a press release from House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, the omnibus appropriations package includes $800 billion in non-defense spending, and “Fulfills 98 percent of Democratic Member requests in the House, with $5.4 billion for 3,213 Democratic projects.”  Some reports estimate that the full number is more than 7,500 costing about $15 billion.  Members stuffed their own stockings with a raise of $35.6 million for office spending, 4.6 percent over the FY 2022 spending levels.  The package also includes “$1.7 billion for competitive grants for multimodal, transit, bicycle and pedestrian, and passenger rail to support local projects that promote green infrastructure, invest in resilient communities, and help address climate change.”

Keeping in mind that many of these funding requests are over and above what federal agencies requested, taxpayers should be appalled to learn that Congress deemed it necessary to fund so-called “Community Funding Projects” or “Congressionally-Directed Spending” like $2 million for a Condor Restoration project in Oregon, $284,000 for an Urban Trail Restoration Project in Kentucky, $300,000 to restore the Nathan Hale Homestead in Connecticut, and $500,000 to Preserve the YWCA’s Laniakea Building in Oahu, Hawaii to name just a few.  Even my home state of Ohio will be the recipient of taxpayer funds with $500,000 appropriated to preserve Ohio University’s Ridges Project, and $800,000 to restore “Windows, Doors, and More” at the Dayton Art Institute.  

Enacting a massive spending package at the end of an already expensive Congress, it like delivering the final blow to taxpayers.  This isn’t just a lump of coal in their stocking, it is like an entire cartload of coal.  Unfortunately, because of the Biden Administration’s energy policies, that coal can’t be used to deal with the rise in heating bills expected this winter that will be exacerbated by rising inflation due in part to the 117th Congress’s flagrant spending over the two years.

As the 117th Congress ends, incoming members of the 118th Congress should take note of how harmful this excessive spending has been on the economy and on the constituents who elected them for the next two years, and instead reduce waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement, consolidate duplicative federal programs, and reject earmarks to help reduce excessive spending in the future that will only further add to the fiscal burdens on taxpayers.