KEY VOTE: Senate · Dec 20, 2022

Heritage Action opposes the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 (H.R. 2617) and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.

The House and Senate voted on a 4155-page, $1.66 trillion omnibus spending package, with an attached $47 billion aid to Ukraine, $38 billion in disaster funding, and a waiver of PAYGO requirements, totaling $1.85 trillion. Per usual for this Congress, this package was drafted by a small handful of members behind closed doors and released in the middle of the night just a few days before members were expected to vote on it, ensuring that nobody would have time to read the entire bill beforehand. Making matters worse, Senators voted to pass this legislation just days before the new Republican majority takes control of the House, removing an opportunity for conservatives to hold the Biden administration accountable for the myriad crises it has created.

The budgeting process in Congress is broken, and this package is a stark reminder. Instead of passing individual appropriations bills throughout the year that can be debated, amended, and passed by both chambers before funding deadlines, the practice of waiting until the last minute and then jamming through a massive bill that nobody has time to read has become the norm. The package itself was crafted by a few senior members of Congress who have secured billions of dollars in earmarks and pet projects while the overwhelming majority of members have been shut out of deliberations. American taxpayers deserve a functional process that doesn’t waste their hard-earned money. This is Washington at its worst.

It should be no surprise that such a broken process has produced a terrible product. First, the bill increases baseline discretionary spending by 10.6% over last year’s monster omnibus, increasing non-defense spending to a record $800 billion when the country is battling historic inflation driven by overspending from the federal government. The Heritage Foundation projects that the total package would increase the 10-year deficit by $2.65 trillion, or $20,000 per household, adding to the inflationary pressure that families are already facing.

Meanwhile, much of this new, inflation-driving spending funds radical progressive priorities. The package includes billions of dollars in climate-related subsidies, and just months after Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) spent $370 billion on Green New Deal style handouts to “green” industries. The bill also funds the IRS at the same level as last year, implicitly endorsing the IRA’s $80 billion plan for the scandalridden and union-dominated agency to hire 87,000 new IRS agents. It also includes $2.3 million to encourage student loan holders to enroll in the Biden administration’s illegal loan cancellation scheme that will cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. While agencies that could theoretically be used to stop the ongoing border crisis, like CBP and ICE, receive increased funding, this will do nothing as long as Secretary Mayorkas is in charge of the Department of Homeland Security. Without a secretary that is willing to enforce the nation’s immigration laws or iron-clad requirements of that individual, this money will simply be used to process greater numbers of illegal aliens into the interior of the country.

The record level of domestic spending will also be used to fund lawmakers' pet projects, wasting taxpayer money on thousands of earmarks, many of which advance the left’s extreme agenda using taxpayer money. This includes $3 million for the American LGBTQ+ Museum in New York City, $1.2 million for “LGBTQIA+ Pride Centers” and another $1.2 million for “support services for DACA recipients” (helping illegal aliens with taxpayer funds) at San Diego Community College, and $1 million for Zora’s House in Ohio, a “coworking and community space” for “women and gender-expansive people of color.”

On top of massive baseline spending increases, the package also contains $47 billion in supplemental appropriations for the conflict in Ukraine. While there are notions of accountability in the bill, they are inadequate for the current context. After two decades of failed nation-building abroad, the American people deserve a publicly disclosed accounting of where and how tax dollars are being spent abroad, particularly on direct economic aid to a nation notorious for its corruption. The legislation also contains $38 billion in natural disaster aid for states. This funding should be planned and budgeted during a regular appropriations process.

There is no precedent for an outgoing House majority to pass an omnibus in the lame duck. American voters went to the polls in November and chose to elect a new Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Negotiators who drafted and are shepherding through this package are rejecting voters' preferences and demands, as expressed at the ballot box. Passing this monstrosity removes the first and best opportunity for Republicans to stop the Biden administration’s progressive agenda. It means that House conservatives will have to wait until government funding runs out in September to begin addressing the numerous crises that the country is facing. Republicans in both the House and Senate have spent the past two years rightfully railing against the Biden administration’s policies, but actions speak louder than words. A vote for this omnibus is a vote for nine more months of the Biden agenda, and all members should have voted no when it came to the floor.

Heritage Action opposes the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 (H.R. 2617) and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.