Defying the political odds, Senate Democrats rolled out a year-end, governmentwide spending bill Tuesday that cuts more than $26 billion from President Barack Obama’s 2011 requests even as it holds firm to thousands of the appropriations earmarks so adamantly opposed by critics of Congress.
Filling more than 1,900 pages, the $1.1 trillion measure represents an increase of less than 2 percent in annual spending but makes for an easy target of ridicule — a last stand by the Senate’s old bulls before the tea party takeover. In a scene reminiscent of the movie “Casablanca,” top Republicans expressed shock, shock that there was gambling still in Rick’s Cafe even after their own members have been quietly working to write the bill and gather GOP votes for passage.
“It’s completely inappropriate; I’m vigorously in opposition to it,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who then had to admit the bill included earmarks for projects in his home state of Kentucky. Indeed, the spending levels are specifically designed to meet appropriations targets that McConnell and much of the Republican leadership espoused only months ago, and the leader’s old friend, Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), has been active on the bill’s behalf.