Tuesday, November 30, 2004

More on that Omnibus Bill

The Progress Report

OMNIBUS -- TRICKY BUSINESS: Today's Roll Call exposes some tricky
business tucked into the massive omnibus bill recently passed by Congress.
"Without floor debate or a single hearing, Congress changed election
laws last week (http://www.rollcall.com/issues/50_55/news/7533-1.html)
to allow members to transfer campaign funds raised for a federal race to
a run for state or local office." A small, "four-paragraph provision
taking up less than half a page in the 3,300-page omnibus appropriations
measure struck a portion of the landmark campaign laws adopted in 2002
and once again freed Members to apply dollars raised for federal
elections toward bids for governor, mayor or other offices." Some lawmakers,
like Wisconsin's Sen. Russ Feingold (D), were outraged by the maneuver.
"Regardless of the merits of the provision allowing Members of Congress
to use their federal campaign accounts for state campaigns, a few
senior Members of Congress or their staffs should not be permitted to
rewrite the campaign finance laws by slipping something into the omnibus
appropriations bill," said Feingold.

OMNIBUS -- SPECIAL INTEREST BONANZA: More details have emerged
about the self-described "lean and clean" $388 billion spending bill
Congress passed last week: $443,000 set aside to make salmon baby food;
$236,000 to research blueberries; $335,000 to help North Dakota shoo
blackbirds off sunflowers; and $1 million for a "Wild American Shrimp
Initiative." (As an outraged Sen. John McCain quipped, "Are American shrimp
unruly and lacking initiative? Why does the US taxpayer need to fund
this `No Shrimp Left Behind Act?'") While special interests -- such as
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which got $350,000 for "education
programs" -- hit the jackpot, other programs weren't quite so lucky -- the
bill slashes eligibility for college Pell grants, which help low-income
students pay for education.