Tags: bayh | feingold | spending

Bayh, Feingold Slam $410 Billion Omnibus Bill

Wednesday, 04 Mar 2009 03:30 PM

By David A. Patten

Two prominent Democratic senators announced Wednesday they will vote against the $410 billion, earmark-laden discretionary spending bill, suggesting support for the measure may be weakening across party lines.

Senators Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Evan Bayh, D-Ind., now both say they oppose the legislation, which increases federal spending by 8 percent and contains approximately 9,000 earmarks.

President Barack Obama has said that, if the legislation reaches his desk — it has passed muster in the House — he will sign it.

“The Senate should reject this bill. If we do not, President Barack Obama should veto it,” Bayh wrote in an op-ed piece in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal.

Bayh blasted the bill as “a sprawling, $410 billion compilation of nine spending measures that lacks the slightest hint of austerity from the federal government or the recipients of its largess.”

Bayh complained the bill “requires the sacrifice from no one,” and rejected the Obama administration’s view that the bill merely represents carry-over funding that predating the Obama era.

“The omnibus debate is not merely a battle over last year’s unfinished business,” Bayh wrote in the Journal, “but the first indication of how we will shape our fiscal future. Spending should be held in check before taxes are raised, even on the wealthy.”

Also Wednesday, Feingold, a frequent ally of Sen. John McCain, announced he was joining with the Arizona Republican in opposing the discretionary funding measure.

“I’m going to vote against it. I’m not going to vote on this,” Feingold told RollCall.com.

A third Democratic defection may come from Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill. She was the lone Democrat Tuesday who supported an amendment by McCain that would have frozen federal discretionary spending at last year’s levels.

Pundits doubt enough Democrats will revolt against the measure to jeopardize its passage. Spending authorizations are not subject to filibuster, so they can be passed by a simple majority.

That said, it appears support is waning in the face of revelations about earmarks.

One indication of its underlying support: McCain’s amendment was defeated by a resounding 63-to-32 margin.

NBC reports eight Republicans voted against McCain’s amendment: Robert F. Bennett, R-Utah; Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo.; Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Susan Collins, R-Me.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala.; Arlen Specter, R-Pa.; and Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Me.

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