The Omnibus Bill: War, Pork, and Bigger Government

Bill Signs Off on Seizing Americans' Private Communications

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.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.