A terrible 2020 is coming to a close, and the American people are about to get handed a massive bill.
After months of delays and waiting, a federal stopgap spending package, combined with $900 billion in COVID-19 relief, is finally being released to the public.
The bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, is nearly 5,600 pages long. Only now are most members of Congress seeing it in its entirety.
A House vote on the legislation, which rivals the length of the Code of Justinian and has more words than the Bible, was scheduled to take place just hours after the text was released. Ultimately, both the House and the Senate voted on the legislation, which passed, the same day the text was released.
Americans are hurting right now, and this isn’t just an ordinary downturn or financial crash. The nation is gripped with a health crisis combined with, in many cases, a government-mandated set of lockdowns that have nearly wiped out entire industries.
So, it’s understandable that there will be an outsized government role in providing aid to the American people to pull us out of this mess.
But is this really the right way to go about it?
Some of the bill’s provisions, such as $600 checks to be sent to most Americans, are well-known and will be publicized, but much of the other spending won’t be. It will simply trickle down to Americans in the months ahead as policy wonks—some of them my hard-working colleagues—pore over the text of the bill and sort it all out.
Not surprisingly, a quick glance reveals some questionable items for what is supposed to be an emergency COVID-19 relief package.
The release of 5,600-page spending bills that are voted on almost immediately—unread—only reinforces the idea that Congress has abandoned its governing responsibilities. In many cases, it has.
The idea that gigantic federal spending bills are being carefully considered and deliberated upon by the legislators closest to the people has become a farce.
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, has relentlessly called out the lunacy.
Roy, along with other Republican legislators, blasted the bill in a Fox News column published a few days before the text of the new spending bill was finally released. The lawmakers wrote that House rules changes have shut down open debate on legislation, and enormous bills are voted on just hours after text is released.
“The framers of our Constitution—the ones who spent months carefully deliberating and debating the ends and means of government in a stuffy room with the windows closed in Philadelphia over 200 years ago—never intended for us to do business this way,” the group wrote, adding:
Congress, due to its nature and design, was given the responsibility of thoughtfully deliberating on behalf of the American people.
That’s why we were elected, to ensure that we address the needs and desires of the whole American people, not just the ones whose representatives have a seat at the table of congressional leadership.
The spending decisions of our republic are now about as distant from the average person as they could possibly be.
The absurdity even provoked a rare moment of agreement between House conservatives and an avowed socialist, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y.
With the vast increase in both the size and role of the federal government has come an accelerating uptick in opaque, pork-laden legislation, an engorgement of the lobbyist and government contractor classes that orbit the federal district, and a deferment of governing responsibility to an unaccountable “fourth branch” of executive and legislative administrative state bureaucrats.
As such, it’s no surprise the Washington, D.C., suburbs comprise the richest ZIP codes in America.
It might be business as usual in our nation’s capital, but it’s eroding the carefully calibrated system designed to ensure liberty and self-government.