Today, the House voted on the omnibus bill so that they can all go back home for Christmas (Santa will probably be giving most of them coal.)
There are many horrible things in the omnibus bill. Here’s a decent run-down of some of the damaging riders by David Dayen in TNR:
In the first major piece of legislation to pass after the historic Paris climate deal, the omnibus will lift the 40-year-old ban on domestic oil exports. Not only does this bail out a sick domestic oil industry by opening up new markets, it over time incentivizes nationwide oil drilling—exactly what the climate deal purports to prevent. Democrats claim that they offset this impact by getting five-year extensions of solar and wind-energy tax credits, but as green groups noted in a letter last week, trading off investments in renewables with incentives for fossil fuels just cancels out the climate gains and makes reaching clean-energy goals harder.
The omnibus also prevents the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, and the White House (by executive order) from writing rules that force the disclosure of political spending by corporations. This preservation of dark money, according to election law expert Rick Hasen, leaves the public without the information it needs about who is trying to buy their elections.
In a portent of the impact of trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the omnibus also eliminates the country-of-origin labeling requirement for meat and poultry, meaning that consumers will no longer know where their flank steak or chicken breast comes from. Canada and Mexico alleged that this law violated past trade agreements, and successfully won a claim at the WTO for $1 billion in trade sanctions. Rather than pay up, Congress will repeal the law. So when the Obama Administration says that trade deals cannot change U.S. law, remember country-of-origin labeling.
Other riders that made it through have negative consequences for privacy, health care, and financial regulation. They include:
- changes to the “visa waiver” program that will institute additional screening of foreign visitors;
- halts to Obamacare “risk corridor” payments designed to help insurance companies manage their subscriber pools;
an entire cybersecurity bill that critics charge will increase government surveillance;
- exemptions from Dodd-Frank regulations for certain derivative swap trades;
an NRA-supported prohibition on the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty that regulates trade in conventional weapons;
and a restriction on the Treasury Department’s sellling of preferred stock in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac until legislation passes to clarify their future (or, if you believe a recent New York Times series, until they are liquidated and sold off to Wall Street).
Even a “clean” omnibus bill would have been bad, continuing the process of underinvestment in the economy and attrition of regulatory agencies. But these riders make it much worse.
The omnibus, nevertheless, passed easily: 316 to 133.
150 Republicans and 166 Democrats voted for it. 95 Republicans and 18 Democrats voted against it.
Here are those 18 Democrats, whom you should thank for their vote:
Xavier Becerra (CA-34)
John Carney (DE-AL)
Lloyd Doggett (TX-35)
Keith Ellison (MN-05)
Ruben Gallego (AZ-07)
Raul Grijalva (AZ-03)
Luis Gutierrez (IL-04)
Hank Johnson (GA-04)
Ted Lieu (CA-33)
Zoe Lofgren (CA-19)
Jim McDermott (WA-07)
Mark Pocan (WI-02)
Jared Polis (CO-02)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
Mark Takano (CA-41)
Bennie Thompson (MS-02)
Maxine Waters (CA-43)
Pete Welch (VT-AL)