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EXCLUSIVE–Mick Mulvaney: Senate Will Not Do an Omnibus Bill This Year

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 18: Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney testifies during a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, April 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony on President Donald Trump's FY2019 budget request for the Office of Management and Budget. (Photo by …
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The U.S. Senate is going to abandon the omnibus appropriations bill this year in favor of individual spending bills to fund the government, according to Mick Mulvaney.

Mulvaney, who is the director of the Office of Management and Budget, told host Alex Marlow of Breitbart News Daily on Sirius XM Wednesday that Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell plans to pass individual spending bills this summer rather than group them together in a massive omnibus bill.

“He doesn’t want a Senate ombnibus. He wants to send the president a package of smaller bills,” Mulvaney said.

This year the House and Senate passed a massive $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, and the president signed it, avoiding a government shutdown that would have taken place if a law authorizing spending were not in place by March 23. Conservatives deplored the bill’s huge increases in spending and lack of transparency in the process. For many of the president’s supporters, the bill marked a low point for the administration. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat, celebrated its passage as a victory for the spending priorities of the Democratic party.

President Trump himself was sharply critical of the bill, even as he signed it.

“I will never sign another bill like this again,” Trump said as he signed the bill. “I was thinking about doing the veto. But because of the incredible gains that we’ve been able to make for the military, that overrode any of our thinking.”

The omnibus bill was drafted behind closed doors by Republican and Democratic leadership with no input from rank-and-file legislators and no scrutiny by the public. Republicans sought to rebuild military spending and agreed to massive increases in domestic spending to win Democrat support. The 2,232 page bill was passed less than 48 hours after it was made available to the public and lawmakers.

Mulvaney said Wednesday that McConnell was committed to the president’s goal of not repeating that process.

“As we look forward to the spending bills this year, we want them in smaller packages and we want them early,” Mulvaney said. “I am absolutely convinced after talking to Mr. McConnell that the Senate is committed to the same thing too.”

Congress is supposed to pass a series of separate bills funding the various activities of the federal government by October 1 each year. For the past decade or so, Congress has aimed at 12 spending bills—one for each subcommittee of the House and Senate appropriations panels.

That process, however, has rarely worked in recent decades. Typically, Congress has passed a continuing resolution funding the government for several months until it can reach an agreement on funding the government. This has, several times, put the government on the brink of a shutdown—or actually triggered a shutdown when Republicans and Democrats could not reach a spending agreement.

Rather than pass stand-alone bills, Congress has frequently resorted to either full-year continuing resolutions or omnibus bills. In each of the past eight, all or nearly all of the spending bills have been bundled into a big legislative package and passed at the last minute to avoid a shutdown.

Mulvaney said the omnibus bills tie the president’s hands by forcing him to approve the huge package or shut down the government.

“When you have only one spending bill, it’s a binary choice. You either sign it or you veto it,” he said. “You sign it and you wind up with an Omni like we had last year. You veto it and the entire government shuts down.”

Mulvaney believes funding the government with smaller legislative packages will enable President Trump to rein in federal spending by threatening to veto bills.

“If we go back to the way it is supposed to be done, with twelve individual spending bills, what does it give the president that he lacks right now? It gives him a real veto threat,” Mulvaney said.

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