Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com – 2014-12-15 22:41:07
The Omnibus Bill: War, Pork, and Bigger Government
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(December 14, 2014) — Over the weekend, the Senate passed the 1,600-plus page omnibus spending bill, which authorizes some $1.1 trillion in spending spanning myriad topics, including $63 billion in “emergency” war funding to the Pentagon.
The bill is drawing attention for Congressional efforts to cram anything and everything into the bill, from war funding to federal funding for municipal projects, and even surveillance. The ISIS war even gets $5 billion in direct funding, even though the war itself hasn’t been authorized by Congress.
On the surveillance front, the omnibus bill opened a lot of eyes by including what Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) termed the “first statutory authority for the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of US persons’ private communications obtained without legal process such as a court order or subpoena. ”
Elsewhere, the bill trampled on other legal principles, including giving the State Department the authority to bypass requirements that Egypt actually end military rule to get its military aid restored.
The scope of the individual abuses stuck in the omnibus bill are at times enormous but the sheer number and scope of them is overwhelming, which very much seems to be the point, avoiding fueling too much debate of any single abuse of power by cramming them all into the same bill at once, and giving enough Congressmen enough handouts along the way to ensure a majority vote.
The omnibus strategy seems to be working, too, as for all of the individual Congressmen complaining about individual problems with the bill, nowhere near enough found enough fault with the bill itself to vote against it.
US Spending Bill Resumes Egypt Military Aid
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(December 14, 2014) — The $1.1 trillion 2015 Omnibus Spending Bill includes a huge number of clauses covering a huge number of topics. It seems to cover everything imaginable, and that includes Egypt.
The US had suspended parts of its massive annual military aid to Egypt over the bloody crackdown in the wake of its summer 2013 coup d’etat. Legally, the US was supposed to suspend it all, but didn’t.
The new bill allows the State Department to bypass requirements for a return to democracy in Egypt, so long as he provides a secret justification to Congress in a “classified form.”
The bypass was heavily lobbied for by Egypt and its allies, allowing officials to present the bill as pressuring the junta to restore democracy while at the same time ensuring that they donâ€™t actually have to.
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