Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) only needed one word to sum up his stance on the $410 billion omnibus appropriations bill the Senate passed today: "No."
No to a bloated federal spending bill that not only spends too much in congressionally directed spending, but also spends money we don't have on government programs that federal agencies aren't even prepared to fund.
"Everyone should agree there are too many congressionally directed spending priorities in this bill, and many of them don't meet the traditional definition of high-priority projects," Hatch said. "That is why I am saying no to $1.9 million for a Pleasure Beach water taxi service in Connecticut; no to $3.8 million for Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy in Michigan; no to $1.7 million for swine odor and manure management research in Iowa; no to $200,000 for tattoo removal in Mission Hills, Calif.; and no to $238,000 for ancient-style canoe voyages in Hawaii. And that's just the short list.
"To borrow a phrase from Nancy Reagan, I decided to just say no,'" Hatch said after voting against the pork-filled bill (H.R. 1105). "Americans across the nation are making sacrifices and making do with less. They want and expect their elected representatives to follow their example. This legislation shows that too many members of Congress are not getting the message."
Hatch noted the omnibus for fiscal year 2009 is $21 billion more than requested. There are 122 programs funded in both this bill and in the so-called stimulus bill, some of which are duplicative and could be eliminated, he continued.
"The president has said we should go through every spending bill line by line to get rid of wasteful spending," Hatch said. "That's a good idea. I wish his Congressional leaders would have heeded his advice. In today's economic environment, we should be cutting back and focusing the limited amount of money we have available on projects that will position our economy for growth over the long term. Limited spending on reasonable transportation and infrastructure projects that will help our businesses compete, core research and development programs that will spawn the next generation of products and services, and interior projects that will help us harness our natural resources can be helpful. We should say no to the morass of projects in this bill that take us beyond the necessary and into the extravagant."
Hatch said H.R. 1105 was simply too big and too bloated to support.
"It is time for Congress to muster some courage and to start saying no to projects and agency spending that is wasteful and does not prepare our country for future economic expansion," he concluded. "The American people expect more of their elected representatives, and they will settle for nothing less."