Congress is about to vote on a massive bill that packages what is supposed to be 12 separate spending bills into one giant spending bill called an Omnibus. Our entire discretionary budget is funded by this bill (as opposed to programs such as social security, Medicare and interest payments that are mandatory). Take our quiz to find out more about it. Once you’re done, you’ll likely know more about it than your Congressmen!
How much spending is included in the Omnibus?
$1.3 trillion – the largest spending bill ever considered. Congress allowed itself to spend an extra $143 billion when it passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 in February - $80 billion in extra defense dollars and $63 billion in non-defense discretionary dollars.
How many pages is the Omnibus?
2232 pages comes out to roughly one million words. That is the same length as the entire Harry Potter series. It would take the average reader 83 hours to read the bill. It would take speed readers 16 hours.
How long will the House of Representative have to review before voting on the bill?
The House voted on the biggest spending bill it has ever considered a mere 14 hours after it was released. The bill text was released at 8pm, so it's likely most members spent a majority of those 14 hours asleep.
What percentage of the $80 billion defense increase went to the military pay increase?
$222 million – or a quarter of one percent – of the $80 billion increase went to the military pay raise. That is nearly the same amount as the $178 million oceanographic survey ship that was not requested by the Pentagon but is built in Mississippi – home of the outgoing Appropriations chairman.
How much military equipment did the omnibus include that was not in the Pentagon’s budget request?
Defense-wide procurement is $133 billion – compared to the $113 billion budget request. That includes an additional 143 aircraft above the service’s requests. As Defense News puts it: “That’s great news for major defense primes like Lockheed Martin and Boeing, both of which stand to make billions more from the additional sales.”
Senator Rand Paul's 'Tasty Waste', the entry highlighting the $1.5 million the National Science Foundation spent trying to improve the taste of tomatoes, was crowned as the Tournament of Government Waste champion. What is the NSF’s budget compared to last year ($7.4 billion)?
The National Science Foundation received a $295 million bump – more money to see if Dinosaurs could sing, to discuss local flora in Mexico, and to keep the shrimps jogging on treadmills.
Speaking of the tournament of government waste, one of our favorites was a National Endowment of the Arts grant for doggie hamlet. Did Congress eliminate the National Endowment of the Arts?
This increase came despite a report from OpenTheBooks that found that $84 million in federal grants went to entities that had $10 million or more in assets. Since 2009, $120 million has gone to organizations with $1 billion in assets.
The President’s Budget recommended the elimination of the Economic Development Administration (EDA) – which funded the digitization of the down marker in our tournament of government waste. Did Congress agree to this reduction?
A 2011 Government Accountability Report found that the federal government has 80 economic development programs across four agencies. There is nothing more eternal than a federal program.
How much money did Congress allot to buy land for the federal government?
The federal government owns 30 percent of all the land in the United States – and there is $20 billion in needed repairs on the land the federal government owns – including $13 billion in our treasured National Park System. Yet, Congress continues to expand the land base rather than taking care of what we already own.
Congress sets its own budget. How much did the Senate provide for itself?
It takes money to spend money! The Senate increased its own budget to $919.9 million. The House increased its own budget by $10 million to $1.1 billion. Given the process where all the decisions were made in the leadership office this week – many are asking why Congress needs anywhere close to $2 billion to operate.
True of false – a bill that would allow Major League Baseball to continue to pay minor leaguers below minimum wage is included in the Omnibus bill.
TRUE!! The Save America’s Pasttime Act was included towards the end of the spending bill. It was not even introduced during this Congress – and had a single sponsor when it was introduced last Congress (it originally had two but one withdrew after the public outcry against it).
True of false – the bill includes a provision requiring cabinet heads to get approval from Congress prior to a redecorating purchase of more than $5000.
But that provision was included in last year’s omnibus and didn’t stop Secretary Carson’s extravagant $31,000 redecoration. Who is going to stop the House from spending $46,000 on bottled water?
How much of the spending bill will be financed by the next generations?
Our projected budget deficit for this year is $753 billion – about 58 percent of this spending bill. The growth in entitlement spending was already set to sink our budget – but has only been exacerbated by recent tax cuts and spending increases. Within the next 5 years mandatory spending – predominately Medicare, Medicaid and social security payments – along with interest payments on our debt is expected to completely consume all federal revenues. At that point our entire discretionary budget, including for our military, will be dependent on our ability to borrow – a risky proposition given our poor fiscal outlook.