I once heard former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich say that if President Donald Trump bought ice cream, he would be criticized for ordering strawberry instead of vanilla. President Trump’s announcement on Friday March 23 that he was approving congress’s $1.3 trillion omnibus, the second largest one in history, after releasing an earlier announcement that he was considering vetoing the 2232 page bill gave Congress, the media, and the public yet another opportunity to sprinkle criticism all over his sundae.
President Trump defended his decision to approve the bill under the rubric of national security, saying that he had to sign it in order to obtain close to $80 billion in increased military spending which included an investment in additional equipment and a pay raise for military personnel.
“We’re very proud of many of the items that we’ve been able to get. We’re very disappointed that in order to fund the military, we had to give up things where we consider in many cases them to be bad or them to be a waste of money. But that’s the way unfortunately right now the system works,” President Trump told reporters at The White House.
Republican members of Congress and the conservative media were the loudest opponents of the President’s decision to approve the bill. In fact, when the bill was approved by the Senate 24 Republican senators voted no. Some Republican members of congress opposed the bill because it did not include the funding for the wall. In fact, it only included about 1.6 billion in border security funding which was only to be used for previously approved border security initiatives versus the $15 billion needed to build the wall. It also included $500 million in funding for Planned Parenthood which President Trump had campaigned on defunding.
The Daily Caller lambasted the President in an article entitled BROKEN PROMISE: Trump, GOP Congress Give Planned Parenthood $500 Million in Taxpayer Funds. The Daily Calleralso stated that Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who were among Trump’s opponents in the 2016 presidential primary, both voted against the bill specifically because it included the Planned Parenthood funding.
President Trump’s approval of the bill also generated a backlash from conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who counts herself among the handful of pundits who predicted the Trump presidential win in the early days of the primary. Coulter described Trump’s signing the bill as a victory for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), tweeting “CONGRATULATIONS, PRESIDENT SCHUMER!”
Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), whom I had the opportunity to hear speak on Thursday March 22 at a Federalist Society event about reforming Article 1, the separation of powers, pivoted to process to explain his rationale for voting against the omnibus. “This omnibus bill is another symptom of Washington’s spending illness; massive overspending in a 2,200-page bill released only hours before the vote. Our Fiscal Year ended September 30, 2017, almost six months ago, but the yearly appropriations were completed today. Since 1986, there have been 23 omnibus bills in all – our budget process has only worked correctly four times since 1974. This is no way to govern.” (Senator-lankford-opposes-13-trillion-omnibus-spending-bill)
Agreed, it is no way to govern. Lankford who is the author of Federal Fumbles,”the successor to former Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) Federal Waste book, clearly knows a thing or two about wasted and worthless federal government spending. And while Lankford’s thoughtful informed observations that we need to “dramatically reform how we do budgeting” and “get out of the endless loop of continuing resolutions” must be addressed with a practical achievable implementation plan, these reforms cannot happen overnight.
Nothing is accomplished by the Republicans within Congress, the conservative media or the public for that matter throwing President Trump under the bus for creating a hierarchy of budgetary priorities nor for making a political compromise. Republicans have to get behind the President’s decisions, even the unpopular ones, so that he can move forward on achieving his big picture objectives and reforms. Only then will we witness a future where President Trump’s words “I will never sign another bill like this again” will become a fait accompli.