Maybe it depends on what your definition of “clean” is. If “clean” means “bereft of any semblance of fiscal conservatism,” then yes, the shutdown-ending continuing resolution to raise the Federal debt ceiling is exactly the gift President Barack Obama was asking for when he and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) famously demanded that Congress pass a “clean” debt bill.
Likewise, if “clean” means “back-loaded with undisclosed pork spending that will only be made known once we’ve passed the bill and then read it,” then — praise Congress — they carried out the task admirably.
Following the Obamacare strategy of ramming a bill through before each member has a chance to see what all it says, Congress gave deceased Senator Frank Lautenberg’s millionaire widow a $174,000 death benefit, a $3.1 million allocation to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, almost half a billion dollars in Department of Transportation money for roads destroyed by Colorado flooding, and — most egregiously — a $2 billion carrot for Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who can go back to the Bluegrass State a hero for tripling the original $775 million allotted by Congress for dam construction on the Ohio River.
Any of these extras might (or might not) be justifiable if they passed through the committee process on their way to an appropriations vote. But they slid through on Obama’s “clean” debt limit bill instead. The McConnell buy-off is particularly revealing, since the Senate Minority Leader evidently wielded his party leverage not to join the few conservative Senators in insisting on a focused piece of legislation, but rather to stay viable with back-home voters.
Predictably, Democratic leaders closed ranks when criticism arose in the hours after Obama signed off on the bill.
“What difference does it make?” chafed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) when questioned about the add-ons. “Why are we talking about this? We’re talking about a bill that, as I said last night, I’m not asking anybody to vote for this bill on the merits.
CNS News quoted Pelosi further:
“My members have some of the same questions, not certainly in terms of the death penalty to the Lautenberg family [Ed. note: death penalty?], but when you have a CR, it is an appropriation, and this, yes would be the normal place for them to do that,” adding that it was consistent with what would be in a continuing resolution.
But not a “clean” resolution, right?