If lawmakers in the House vote this week on a “CR-omnibus” spending package, House Speaker John Boehner will be doing exactly what he accused former Speaker Nancy Pelosi of doing on a similar bill in 2009: Ramming it down Americans’ and lawmakers’ throats without anyone having time to read the bill.
On Feb. 18, 2009, as Pelosi and her top lieutenant Steny Hoyer planned to introduce a half-trillion-dollar omnibus sometime a week or so later then voting on it quickly, Boehner issued a statement calling on Pelosi and Hoyer to post the bill online for more than a full week so Americans and lawmakers could read it.
“If Democratic leaders plan to schedule a vote on the half-trillion dollar omnibus spending bill next week, they should post the legislation online immediately so the American people have adequate time to read the measure and understand what is in it,” Boehner said in the 2009 statement which is coincidentally still available on his website. “My colleagues in the Republican leadership and I made this request two weeks ago, and to date, our request has gone unanswered. Time is running short, and American taxpayers deserve to know how their hard-earned tax dollars will be used under this legislation.”
It’s worth noting that the push by Boehner to have Pelosi post omnibus spending bills online more than a week before votes would be even more transparent than the so-called 3-day rule, where GOP leaders promise they will post bills online for at least part of three different calendar days before scheduling votes on them. Boehner has broken the three day rule promise before, and he’s stretched the limits of it quite a bit–where sometimes leadership will introduce legislation at 11 p.m. and count that as a full day.
The 2009 press release notes that Boehner had even actually sent a letter to Pelosi on Feb. 5–weeks before the vote–asking that Americans have several weeks to read the bill before they vote on it.
It’s also worth pointing out that Pelosi’s and Hoyer’s 2009 omnibus was worth half a trillion dollars. Boehner’s forthcoming omnibus–which he still hasn’t posted online, and only a few of the negotiators know what’s in it–will be worth more than a full $1 trillion. And Boehner will be expecting lawmakers to vote on the bigger omnibus bill while having less information about what’s in it and less time to read it than he pushed for from Pelosi in 2009.
“The fact that the Democratic Majority is planning to bring this massive spending bill to the House floor just days after Congress approved the trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ spending plan is added proof that ‘borrow and spend’ has become Washington’s go-to strategy for funding more programs and projects that taxpayers do not need and cannot afford,” Boehner said when Pelosi did what he’s now considering back in February 2009.
“Will the omnibus spending bill be loaded with pork-barrel earmarks?” Boehner questioned of Pelosi’s omnibus back then:
Will it contain harmful language aimed at stopping environmentally-safe energy exploration far off our shores? Will it include other controversial policy changes akin to the ‘stimulus’ bill’s provisions to undermine welfare reform and allow government bureaucrats to ration out health care for families and seniors? These are important questions that must be answered – and will be answered, if Democratic leaders give the American people ample time to review the legislation by placing it online immediately.